Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Prosecuting Scotland Yard, following the public execution of Jean Charles De Menezes, using UK Health and Safety Law... rather like prosecuting the Crew of the Enola Gay for a breach of Japanese fire regulations.

Have you heard of Anthony Diotaiuto? (before now) No I thought not.

You won't have heard his name elsewhere - unless you're a resident of Sunset, Florida, or a keen follower of the drug war. Which is what particularly disturbed me about his story as I was rejigging my Police State of America page.

More precisely, it crystallised an obvious truth about the vast majority of the stories on that page.. Just scroll up or down and see how many mainstream sources there are. Believe me their scarcity is not because I avoid mainstream sources. It is, after all, something of an evangelising page trying, vainly, to get the average American to wake up and smell the coffee. I'm sure I'll convince more people by appealing to sources they recognise and trust as authorities (whether or not I do) than by trying to be politically correct and sticking with only the sources of which I approve. I cannot afford to be that selective.

In general, the source I've used is simply the best I could find at the time - provided their version of events appeared to supported by more than their own reportage; and the plain fact is that the mainstream have largely ignored most of those stories.

But Anthony's story, in particular, surely should have been mainstream. It seems to me FAR more horrendous than the tale of Jean Charles De Menezes, whose death we are about to commemorate as I write these words.

Police told reporters the day of the shooting they knew Diotaiuto has a license to possess a weapon, so they sent in the SWAT team to lessen the possibility of violence. They did not explain why they thought a surprise attack [by masked armed men] on the home of an unsuspecting but presumably armed man would produce a nonviolent result -- and it didn't.[emphasis added] neighbor Rudy Strauss told the Sun-Sentinel he and his wife were awake when the raid occurred and heard the crash of Diotauito's door being smashed in, but heard no yelling announcing the presence of police. There were no words spoken outside, he said, adding that he and his wife watched the raid unfold from their window. "I heard this loud bang, and I saw a flash," Strauss said Tuesday. "I never heard them say 'Police.' If somebody were pounding on the door, I would definitely hear that, or if they yelled, 'Police, police!'"

In Menezes' case, as in the case of Anthony Dotaiuto, the cops really screwed things up. But - apart from some folk on the outer fringes of the CT circles - no-one doubts that, in the context, it is highly likely that the London executioner sincerely believed he was preventing a suicide bomber making his kill. He had reasonable cause to believe that his own life and the lives of other nearby civilians was at immediate risk. He was wrong. He - and his support infrastructure blew it big time. He's going to have to live with that guilt for the rest of his life. In contrast, the Florida SWAT team created the conditions which were likely to produce a violent outcome.

Here in the UK, we're still not happy with the police account of that incident and the media and the victim's family are still kicking lumps out of the State for their failure. The story has been on and off the front pages ever since it happened a year ago. Do a google for "Jean Charles De Menezes" (or click on the link to save your tired fingers) and you'll get half a million pages in response.

Now do the same again for Anthony Diotaiuto.

It varies, but you'll probably get between 1,100 and 2,000 pages. Actually, the first time I did that, a couple of weeks ago, I got just 172 pages, so the word seems to be spreading as we speak. It might have changed a bit more by the time you click on it, but the point should stand.

What explains that dramatic difference in coverage? Is the American Media,together with the world of Conspiracy Theorists and the world of random Blogging, suffering a collective case of Attention Deficit Disorder?

The execution of Anthony D was far less defensible than the killing of the unfortunate Brazilian.

What did the police in each case believe?

Well, for the CTs feeding on the carcase of Menezes, nothing will dissuade them from their pet conspiracies such as this one painted by infowars. Read it through and then ask yourself a couple of questions.

If the police knew - as the CT suggests - that Menezes was not a suicide bomber, and knew what we now know about this innocent victim and his complete lack of connections with anything the police would be remotely interested in, then just why did they kill him specifically? Was he selected by some random lottery for the privelege? Had he smiled for too long at one of the cops' sisters? And why the obviously botched chase, in which they nearly missed their target? Surely if they'd predetermined his fate, they would have managed to plan to have the personnel in place at the right time. And why weren't the media in on the act? They usually are if you follow any of the standard CTs. Yet, on this occasion, they have been happy to attack the head of the Metropolitan Police quite openly for his apparent failures.

Although not specifically mentioned by the infowars article, the CT "consensus" seems to be that the murder of Menezes was carried out to frighten the citizens. So why do the CTs think that Londoner's either could be or needed to be "frightened" by this execution? After surviving the WWII Blitz and 30 years of IRA terrorism, London is about the most prepared city on the planet for dealing with these incidents without over-dramatisation. It would take a lot more than a single staged execution to frighten Londoners into submission. And so on.

The CT's around the London Bombings and Menezes' execution are even more divorced from reality than the 9-11 fairy stories (and, yes, I'm still a member of Scholars for 911 Truth - that's why I get to see the fairy stories).

Well, OK, perhaps not quite that gaga.

You do have to go a long way to beat the blue screen hologram nonsense, (personally, I prefer this version) but they are in the same league. And their proponents, like so many CTs, are not worth arguing with. They don't have the first grasp of how to construct an empirical hypothesis, so their ignorance forms an impenetrable shield - every bit as solid as the shield of a religious fundamentalist - behind which their logic appears to be self consistent and, to them, its the rest of us who "just don't get it".

In the real, as opposed to virtual, London, the Police knew absolutely nothing at all about Menezes. They believed they were tracking an Ethiopian named Osman Hussain. The handling of the perceived threat exposed major resource gaps in their coverage. As a result, they were severely overstretched in their attempt to prevent further anticipated attacks across London and only had surveillance operatives (as opposed to an armed response team) keeping an eye on Menezes/Hussain.

As a consequence, when "the suspect" emerged from his house, there were no authorised armed officers available to intercept him before he got on the bus and began the last journey of his life. It took so long for armed officers to arrive, that when they caught up with him on the train they didn't have time for a proper briefing by the surveillance team - who, by then appear to have concluded that Menezes probably wasn't a suicide bomber. They arrived pumped full of adrenalin, and believing they had no time to make a detailed assessment of the target. They clearly had to make a judgement call and we all know the tragic results.

All of which raises one last objection to the CT. If the purpose of the "assassination"was to intimidate the population into accepting more US style Police State measures, one obvious first measure would be the routine American style arming of all Police officers. So why (if it was a conspiracy) hasn't there been any significant clamour for such a change? After all, that would have solved the very real resource problem at the time - yet no one (who matters) has been promoting such a policy.

I wouldn't want to be either a member of Menezes' family or the officer who pumped 7 bullets into the Brazilian's head. But, assuming that is a fair summary of the event, what we see is a logistics problem escalating to a major disaster. We do not see malice or wilfull negligence. Shit happens.

In contrast to the London Police ignorance regarding Menezes, in Sunset, Florida, this is what they knew about their target:

He had no history of violence. His only criminal record was for marijuana possession 7 years previously as a 16 year old. He had a licence for a firearm. He worked two part time jobs to make ends meet while attending community college and he'd just sold his car to raise funds for a deposit on a modest house for his mother. They knew that he'd just got back from one of his jobs at 5 oclock in the morning and was likely to be exhausted - the reason they chose 6.15 am for the raid.

On the basis of that profile and, presumably, evidence of illegal activities which have yet to be made public, they believed - we are supposed to believe - that this man was an armed and violent drug dealer. We are also supposed to believe that when confronted, and commanded to "freeze" he fled to his bedroom and armed himself, presumably with the intent of resisting arrest.

Diotaiuto's body was found in his bedroom closet where he had either chosen to "make his last stand" or run and hide from the masked armed raiders. He had no less than 10 bullet wounds. His own gun was not found near the body and had not been discharged. (And some reports suggest it was only a "BB gun" anyway).

How many violent drug dealers bother to get a Licence for their firearm? Close, I suspect, to zero. Your average violent drug dealer doesn't take too kindly to the paperwork that goes with a Florida "conceal-carry permit"; the fingerprinting, criminal background check, the fee, and enrollment in a firearms safety class; they just don't go with the image.

How many violent drug dealers have two part time jobs and sell their cars to raise money for deposits on modest houses? How many violent drug dealers have no previous history of violence?

They apparently believed they were arresting a Cannabis dealer in his own home. Yes he might have been armed, but he had no history of violent conduct and marijuana dealing aint that kind of a scene. Certainly not at his level anyway. There was no danger whatsoever to other innocent civilians - except from the SWAT team themselves who would, no doubt, have shot anyone in their way. They obviously didn't even have good cause to believe he was a dealer: He had neither the profile nor the lifestyle to sustain such a suspicion. (And they found less than two ounces of cannabis on the premises)

Yet far from hauling the police over the coals for this gross improportionality and forcing them to adopt accountable procedures, the media hasn't even bothered to tell the story. Even most Americans have never heard of Anthony

And far from seriously considering whether there was a legal case for manslaughter...

...which, in my view ought be an automatic charge whenever the police shoot a civilian. But more of that in a minute. At least, in the UK, that was a serious option...

And far from desperately trying to appease an outraged public reasonably well informed by an outraged media...

... but, on the up side, also far from the embarrassment of having to resort to "Health and Safety" Legislation to offer that appeasement. Jeez. As implied by the title of this rant, that's like trying to appease the citizens of Hiroshima by agreeing to prosecute the crew of the Enola Gay for a breach of Japanese fire regulations.

And I thought it was the Americans who didn't understand irony!!

In contrast to all the fuss over here by what looks like a tragic but comprehensible misjudgement, the American media lies prostrate while watching the Police routinely murder American citizens and the American Supreme Courts voting (in 2004) to Make it Tougher to Sue Police in such cases, arguing:

In a wrongful arrest and a questionable shooting, [they] say officers should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Talk about putting the cart before the horse! EVERY police shooting in a civil society should be regarded as highly questionable and, by default, the killer should expect prosecution. This does NOT require a reversal of the principle "innocent until proven guilty". It merely amounts to a recognition that the killing of our own citizens is the gravest action ANY other citizen - military, police or civilian can perform and they should ALWAYS be required to account, publicly, for their actions. The obvious and most formal place to make that account is to a Court. If the evidence presented to that court is adjudged by a jury to vindicate the killer's actions, then all charges can be dropped and, if appropriate, the killer can even be rewarded with the gratitude of the community.

In the self-same civilised society, this would be a very rare and shocking event (like it is in most of the Western World in fact). It should be almost unheard of for a Police officer ever to kill a citizen. It should always be an event worthy of blanket media coverage and public outrage.

In a country, however, where the Police routinely kill thousands of citizens every year, like some 3rd World countries and the United States, it is apparently no more newsworthy than the average fatal car crash.

We shouldn't be squeamish about the conduct of this War, whether we choose to call it the "War on Terror" or "World War Three/Four". There will be tragic mistakes from time to time, like the Menezes case. Even the Trusted Surveillance solution I advocate will not eliminate such errors - although it would dramatically reduce them. I've argued the case elsewhere for democratic decisions on whether we should even be in the war, but now, like it or not, we're in it and the lynchpin for maintaining civil control of our conduct of the war, is that all such mistakes should be routinely vetted by We The People and not by a committee of apparachiks with a vested interest in protecting incompetence or conspiracy.

We The People, acting in the form of a suitably selected Jury, should be the ones who decide whether or not in any given instance, the killing was a proportionate and justified response to the circumstances or whether the killer has committed a crime. It is, of course, already this way for any civilian who kills another civilian. They must convince a Jury that they had no other reasonable choices. Why on earth should a professionally trained killer, employed by the State to protect its citizens, not have to answer the same questions in open court - or even a closed court if the Jury accepts the need for secrecy?

You cannot get much further away from that model of social control than for a "Supreme Court" to award judicial carte blanche to the State Militia. Such a ruling is consistent only with the behaviour of dictatorships and authoritarian regimes. It is the classic imprimatur of the Police State. The Police in America are now - by "legal" definition - always on the right side of the Law.

The senile Justices are obviously too degenerate and the American media too arrogant to experience the deep shame they have brought upon their country. For pity's sake when are we going to see the American people rising up, in Vietnam War style protest against their military regime?

And for our own sake, let's just hope the rest of the West isn't going to follow them down the plughole.

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