World Affairs Brief, November 28, 2014 Commentary and Insights on a Troubled World.
Copyright Joel Skousen. Partial quotations with attribution permitted. Cite source as Joel Skousen’s World Affairs Brief (http://www.worldaffairsbrief.com).
This Week’s Analysis:
Deeper Issues Behind the Ferguson Riots
Iran’s Talks Extended—What That Means
North Korea Developing Submarine Ballistic Missile
Russia’s Preparations to Fight and Win a Nuclear War
Preparedness Tip: The Power of Garlic
DEEPER ISSUES BEHIND THE FERGUSON RIOTS
There are many motives driving the latest Ferguson, MO unrest after the Grand Jury decided not to indict Officer Wilson. Some of it was justifiable frustration by the public about growing police dictatorial attitudes and thuggishness, some was irritation against the prosecutor’s manipulation of the grand jury, but the pillaging itself was largely criminal elements from the black community taking advantage to simply loot, pillage and destroy. Very little of this is actually about racial discrimination. This week, I’ll analyze the larger issues that aren’t going to be fixed by the establishment and which will give rise to even more social unrest and tyranny in America.
I won’t go into all the ongoing details of the unrest and destruction in Ferguson and across the country except to repeat some of the headlines: “Grand Jury refuses to indict”, “Protesters Overturn Barricades, Swarm Courthouse”, “Michael Brown’s Mother Collapses Outside Station”, “Traffic Blocked on Interstate”, “St. Louis Airport Shut Down”, “Cars Vandalized, Overturned”, “Store Robbed by Brown Looted”, “Businesses Destroyed and Burned” (mostly minority owned), “Ferguson Mayor Criticizes Delayed Deployment of National Guard”, “Protesters shut down CA freeway”, “3 NY Bridges Closed”, “45 arrested in Boston.” In short, it was as big a disaster and protest as had been predicted.
The mainstream media mostly fled the scene citing safety concerns due to harassment from the protesters themselves who disliked the way things were being reported. The best coverage by far was by Alex Jones’ team of gutsy reporters who stayed through it all filming away and broadcasting a running commentary. But here are the larger issues:
Looting and Authorities’ Refusal to Stop It: The authorities seemed more bent on tear gassing protestors than actively trying to deter or stop the looting and destruction of property. This was a case of the police not being aggressive enough against criminal behavior—the violence against innocent shop owners which is never justified by either racism or perceived lack of justice. As Gary North wrote,
The looters and rioters in Ferguson have sent a message: the state is impotent when it comes to protecting life and property. Yet these two protections are basic to the theoretical justification for the state’s possession of a lawful monopoly of violence. The state of Missouri visibly shares this with looters. “Sorry; there is nothing much we can do.” The looters knew this, and they acted accordingly.
But, in fact, the police could have done a lot to stop looters, including putting out a public policy order that looters will be shot on sight by strategically placed rooftop snipers. These kinds of special declarations could have changed looter’s expectations of immunity and given armed shop owners the right to protect their property with deadly force. This is an important policy during mass looting where property owners cannot be expected to argue and confront would-be looters individually and go through the steps of determining if a threat to his life is present (the normal standard for use of deadly force). I know that’s improbable with the anti-gun mentality of public officials and even most police chiefs, but someday this growing permissiveness about looting will lead to major unrest and damage to society—and eventual vigilante backlash.
While I take a very strong view that police encounters with unarmed individuals need to be restricted to non-lethal means, mass criminal activity needs to be stopped quickly before it spreads—even with deadly force, if necessary. Looting is very contagious and trying to arrest masses of looters is nearly impossible without police outnumbering looters at least 2 to 1, and that puts a whole lot of policemen at risk inside a huge mob. A few warning shots and the real follow-on risk of being shot would make looting quickly cease. Deadly force should not be used against peaceful protests, but it is with looting because looters know they are in the wrong.
It was disturbing to read how some of the liberal mainstream media [Time.com] was openly justifying mob violence as a legitimate form of civil disobedience when “injustices” aren’t getting results from authorities. Attacking other innocent people is NEVER justified when government is the problem.
Growing Police Arrogance and Thuggishness: This is a very serious problem in America today, and it is at the core of growing public fear and distrust of police, especially among minorities where the highest concentration of crime and gang activity occurs. Liberals decry the statistics showing that black and Latino minorities have the highest rate of encounters with police—leading to charges of racial profiling, but most of the encounters and even profiling are justified. There’s nothing wrong with police being alert to markers of where the highest propensity for criminal activity exists, and watching for them. There is an undeniable high percentage of black and Latino males involved in drugs, gang and criminal activity in large urban areas, so the high percentage of police confrontations with those groups isn’t going to change by forcing police not to scrutinize these groups closely.
This awareness of crime markers, however, never justifies treating the entire class of minorities with disrespect during encounters that are not dangerous or criminal in nature. Badmouthing, foul language and cursing by police as they issue orders is totally inappropriate when beginning an encounter. It inflames and makes every situation worse. It was a major factor in the initial fist fight that ensued between Brown and Officer Wilson.
There’s also a real and pernicious militaristic and macho attitude among many in the police, especially those trained in SWAT tactics. Bad attitudes and habits spread widely within police ranks when not disciplined by the leaders. This leads to a “do as I say, and don’t question my authority” mentality among many in law enforcement today—even when they are dealing with minor infractions or with the elderly, women, children or pregnant people rather than saving it for suspected criminals.
To be sure, there are still plenty of courteous police around the nation, but the number of bad cops is increasing dramatically. The primary reason for this is the refusal of police chiefs and Sheriffs to curtail aggressive talk and behavior. Even worse, aggressive cops have seen their chiefs justify and protect bad behavior through sham “investigations” and cover-ups many times before. That’s what leads to this sense of immunity and arrogance that bad cops display.
I’ve got hundreds of files on innocent people’s encounters with aggressive police violating their rights. Invariably, when they complain or file suit against the police, the officers lie about the encounter. They concoct egregious and false scenarios claiming how the victim was attacking them that justified their aggressive tactics, when in fact it was just the opposite. Then it becomes the victim’s word against police, and that old “support your local police” attitude kicks in with prosecutors and judges. We all know now, as well, that it is a fact that corrupt police can and do plant drugs or a gun on a victim to justify an arrest or the death of an innocent subject after a deadly no-knock arrest goes bad.
But the highest blame goes to the courts who almost always refuse to sanction bad police behavior, hiding behind the worn-out excuse, “I’m not going to second guess the police.” What a cop-out! We’re not demanding they “guess” or “second-guess” at all, but make a concerted legal judgment about police behavior and justification of force. If the courts won’t judge aggressive behavior who will?
In fact the only times the courts will rule in favor of a victim of police abuse is when the victim has video or audio recordings so that police can be exposed in their lies—and that’s why police demand people not record their activities. Some of the most aggravated examples of police abuse occur against people who are filming them. Even when prosecuted based on recorded evidence, the result is hardly ever jail time for the cop. The taxpayer is forced to pay off the victim and the police chief and his cop go back to their jobs, gloating about dodging another bullet. Sadly, civilian police review boards rarely help, because they are appointed by mayors or city councils, and they make sure the majority are reliable defenders of police behavior.
All of this commentary very much relates to Officer Darren Wilson because we have video evidence of him displaying just this kind of dictatorial attitude in an encounter with a black citizen in 2013. Wilson was directed to investigate complaints about this person’s junky yard, but instead of being courteous, he starts talking about “putting your [expletive] in jail” if he doesn’t stop videoing the encounter, a clear abuse of authority. Here is Mike Arman’s recording of his encounter with Darren Wilson. It’s hard to hear what Wilson is saying, but the UK Guardian reported:
Video footage has emerged showing Darren Wilson – the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri – threatening and arresting a resident who refused to stop filming him with a cellphone. [a legal action]
Wilson is seen standing near his Ferguson police SUV and warning Mike Arman: “If you wanna take a picture of me one more time, I’m gonna lock your [expletive] up.” Arman, who had requested Wilson’s name, replies: “Sir, I’m not taking a picture, I’m recording this incident sir.” The officer then walks to the porch of Arman’s home and apprehends him, after telling him that he does not have the right to film.
What we see here is illegal conduct by Wilson—a false statement on the law and a wrongful demand to cease as the justification for a wrongful arrest. Did the police ever reprimand Wilson for this? No. Is it relevant to the Brown incident? Yes because it shows Wilson had a history of speaking derisively to blacks and ordering them around. This attitude appears to be what triggers the violent confrontation with Brown.
The Grand Jury Decision: There was widely conflicting evidence presented to the grand jury, and the prosecutor was clearly trying to skew the proceedings toward no indictment. While he did bring forth all witnesses on both sides, he showed favoritism toward those tending to justify Wilson’s behavior. The prosecutor also failed to present any evidence of police investigative irregularities that looked like intent to cover-up:
Initial interviews of Wilson were not recorded, photographs of the crime scene which would have confirmed the distance at which Brown was shot from Wilson’s vehicle were not taken, nor were photos immediately taken of Wilson’s condition upon returning to the station. Important measurements were not taken. The same questionable excuse was given in both cases—dead battery in camera. What are the chances for two official cameras having dead batteries on that day?
There was a major issue about Officer Wilson’s claim about multiple misfires of his weapon. Wilson said that in his grappling with Brown at his cruiser’s window, with Brown reaching in and struggling for control of his weapon, that Wilson’s gun misfire twice in trying to shoot Brown. But I find this highly suspicious. Wilson was using a semi-auto pistol in .40 SW caliber. With a misfire you can’t just pull the trigger again (like you can with a revolver that rotates the cylinder to a new round). A semi-auto pistol has to be cleared manually which is a two-handed operation to rack the slide to the rear and chamber another round. He couldn’t have done that once or even twice if he were grappling with Brown for the gun, as he claims.
While it is clear by later photos of Wilson’s face that he had been attacked by Brown, I don’t believe Wilson was justified in killing the guy after he had driven him off with gunfire that probably hit Brown’s hand. First, Wilson pursued Brown with his weapon instead of call for backup. Either Wilson was a very bad shot or Brown was a fair distance away when Wilson opened fire on him with five additional shots, which were all near misses except one. All the bullets are wide afield of the torso except the final head shot which killed Brown. Some witnesses said Brown had raised his hands to surrender when Wilson began firing again. Another, which the prosecutor relied on and emphasized, said Brown charged Wilson.
It is possible that both types of witnesses were correct. Brown may have initially surrendered but if Wilson started to shoot at him anyway, Brown may have decided his only chance of survival was to charge. Wilson should have called for backup and had the wounded Brown arrested.
Importantly, the jury did not address the issue of Wilson provoking a violent response by cursing at Brown while ordering him off the street. Clearly, there was blame on both sides, but the greater blame has to lie with the officer for provoking an angry response to a non criminal activity (walking in the street) and then initiating deadly force on Brown with a volley of shots into an unarmed man who had retreated from the fight.
The Grand Jury Process: Grand Juries were designed by the judicial founders of our country to be a restraint on unwarranted prosecution, but the process has since been turned into a group of common citizens (often selected for their lack of experience) directed in their every move by a prosecutor who has total charge of the entire secret procedure. Grand Juries are often nothing more than rubber stamps for the prosecution.
It is noteworthy in the case of the Oklahoma City bombing case that the grand jury was not permitted to interview any witnesses that testified to a John Doe number II, who many suspect was the government agent involved in guiding McVeigh’s actions. Witnesses were frequently told by the prosecutors to shut up. Witnesses admitted they were pressured by the FBI to implicate McVeigh and change their stories before appearing to the grand jury. When a few members of the jury began to challenge the control of the prosecutor and demand more information, the prosecutors and supervising judge put extreme pressure them, particularly on one juror who sensed a cover-up was going on. The judge dismissed him without hearing his objections. How transparent and fair is that process? See the story of whistleblower grand juror Hoppy Heidelberg here.
Here are excerpts from a David Feige piece in Slate on “The Independent Grand Jury That Wasn’t.”
As we think about the subsequent outrage, feast on images of the looting and fires, and pore over the damage assessments and arrest counts, it is worth taking a moment to talk about the road to this ruinous place and the ways in which St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s decisions exacerbated the problem.
McCulloch did something sneaky. He decided to foist the responsibility for an inevitably unpopular decision onto the members of the grand jury. By letting them make the ultimate decision, McCulloch hoped that he would be absolved of the responsibility for either prosecuting a cop or freeing a man many saw as a murderer.
But in order to do this, McCullough first needed to sell the notion that the grand jury was an independent body. And while there is some historical basis for this claim, in modern America, the grand jury is by no means independent. Rather, it is completely controlled by and ultimately loyal to the prosecutors who submit cases to it.
It was, in a way, a brilliant move—McCulloch wrapped himself in a profound loyalty to one of the few unimpeachable virtues in politics: transparency… And he might have pulled it off, but for the bizarre self-justifying ramble that was his press conference… Rather than take the podium, announce the decision, and then go on to explain the process and answer questions, McCulloch launched into a lengthy disquisition on the evidence, detailing the physical evidence and the ways in which it both discredited many of the witnesses who claimed to have seen what happened… Over the course of almost 20 minutes, McCulloch didn’t merely fail to get to the question on everyone’s mind, he implicitly demonstrated the very thing he’d spent weeks denying—that he had everything to do with the decision.
What became clear in his rambling presentation was that, just like in every other case, McCulloch had used his role as “legal adviser” to the grand jury to structure evidence and frame the presentation in such a way as to yield the very conclusion suspicious residents of Ferguson always feared. Robert McCulloch hadn’t changed the nature of the grand jury process after all. He hadn’t ceded autonomy to an independent body, he’d done what prosecutors have always done: presented his case to the grand jury, and placed his thumb squarely on the scale.
Prosecutor presented a defense because he was “going to be fair” but that means any time he went before the grand jury before and presented on the prosecution case, he was being unfair. In fact, that [is] exclusively what prosecutors do.
He is right, prosecutors almost always only present the prosecutor’s case to grand jurors and that is why they almost always rubberstamp what the prosecution suggests. I much prefer the preliminary hearing procedure that many states use, where the proceedings are public and where defense attorneys and prosecutors present the evidence before a judge—who determines if there is probable cause to proceed.
The grand jury decision is not the only legal challenge Wilson will face, though the options from Obama’s justice department (civil rights charges) are highly unlikely. The next most likely step is a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Brown’s parents. What is certain is that Darren Wilson won’t be safe to drive the streets of Ferguson any longer. He’s been in hiding since the incident and may well have to move permanently to a non-black neighborhood to avoid revenge attacks. I doubt he’ll ever work in law enforcement again—he’s too tainted..
FERGUSON REEXAMINED, by Paul Craig Roberts — Few, if any, of the correct questions were asked in the grand jury hearing to decide whether policeman Darren Wilson would be indicted for killing Michael Brown