Thursday, May 31, 2012

'Operation Countdown' proclaimed a total success

Six Shooter Junction – There may not be a new Sheriff in town yet, but changes are coming thick and fast in local law enforcement as Operation Countdown proceeds apace.

No one is quite sure of what, exactly, Operation Countdown may consist.

Knowledgeable observers were surprised to find a complete McLennan County Jail population report on-line today, a comprehensive list of inmates of McLennan County's lockups that lists both accused and convicted offenders by name, offense, court in which they are charged, and cause number.

Other information available includes the criminal identification number of the individual agencies, such as the various police departments and federal agencies who made the arrests.

The link to the .pdf file may be activated by inserting this URL address in the search engine of any computer.

The first name on the list, for instance, is that of Jason Naser Abdo, a prisoner held on federal detention on two charges for which he was convicted last week – a weapons violation and domestic terror, for which he was arrested by the Killeen Police Department in July of 2011.

It is a matter of some mystery if this development is part of Operation Countdown.

What is known is that the operation's planners are claiming a total success, what with 200 volunteers staffing all 58 voting precincts in McLennan County as poll watchers, greeters and observers.

Even the fact that signs put up earlier at a proper distance from each polling place disappeared by the time polls opened at 7 a.m. did not mar the enthusiasm of Operation Countdown operatives on election day.

Re-elected by an overwhelming margin as Precinct 1 Commissioner, Kelly Snell remarked the sudden appearance of the jail population report with surprise.

He said he only gets some information from the Sheriff's Office on certain days, and that only concerns the total number of prisoners held by the private jail operator, CEC, Inc.

“They don't do anything consistently,” he said.

He characterized his experience during his one term as a County Commissioner as that of finding it difficult to get information he needs to make intelligent decisions.

“It's very hard; it's like pulling teeth...

“That's why we've got to get the Sheriff's office to come forward and give us their plan. I've got to have numbers; I've got to have reports; I've got to have facts.”

So far, no such information is available, according to Mr. Snell.

When the contract with CEC to operate the downtown jail expires in mid-month of June, he said, county operation of the 324-bed lockup could save the expense of $10 per per prisoner per day off the present expense of $45.50 per prisoner charged at the Jack Harwell Detention Center.

Present expenses to house “overflow” prisoners from the County Jail on Highway Six in the privately operated Jack Harwell Detention Center run from $7,000 to $14,000 per day, especially on weekends when, according to Mr. Snell, “We're just performing baby sitting chores for the weekend prisoners.

“I think it's pretty much a dead issue until after November,” he said.

Informed that the Sheriff's Office is required to have an operations plan on file with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards in order to obtain an operating permit, he expressed surprise that the information is available from the state government as a part of the public record.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

McNamara sews up nomination as Sheriff of McLennan

Waco – As the big screen televisions flashed news that veteran Deputy U.S. Marshal Parnell McNamara had beaten the socks off Chief Deputy Randy Plemons, supporters partying at the Hog Creek Ice House held kids' stick horses aloft.

The stick horses served as rallying points in the crowd; they resembled the gangs of old New York going into battle with the standards of the Dead Rabbits and Plug Uglies held high as they met at 5-Points, ready to rumble.

Deputy Plemons had in past weeks gone negative in television spots mocking Marshal McNamara's horsemanship and reputation as a traditional lawman with a gift for assembling a posse and going after bad guys wanted at the bar of justice - and still at large.

Many thus pursued have gone to the penitentiary, a few to the death chamber. His exploits have gained recognition far and wide, on television programs about law and order, productions such as "America's Ten Most Wanted," and the Arts and Entertainment Network.

A particularly galling ad featured a little boy riding a stick horse, wearing a 10-gallon cowboy hat and wearing a vest much too large for him.

All that and a bag of chips, it prompted McNamara supporters to defeat Deputy Plemons by 1,772 votes – 11,652 to 9,880. Deputy Plemons is the candidate chosen by retiring incumbent Sheriff Larry Lynch to succeed him after 12 years as McLennan County Sheriff.

During the campaign, Marshal McNamara gleaned endorsements from the statewide police union, Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT), the Waco Police Association, and the Hewitt Police Officers Association, among others.

His program includes:

Favoring a civil service commission for officers and jailers;
Restoring public operation of the County Jail by the department;
Reinstituting a drug task force;
Starting a cold case squad staffed in part by retired law men to clear 53 open and unsolved homicides in McLennan County, some of them home invasions, others of them robberies.

Asked what would become of crooks in Six Shooter Junction, Marshal McNamara's side kick Matt Cawthon said, “There will be a new order to things around here.” He is a retired Texas Ranger who is now a Texas Department of Criminal Justice officer seconded to the Fugitive Warrant Task Force founded by Marshal McNamara during a 30-year career with the U.S. Marshal's Service, half of which was spent as the Marshal in charge of the surrounding 13-county area.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Homeland security types vigilant over certain words

And let's face it, strong-arm regimes are threatened by popular outcries for political freedom that are empowered by unfettered Internet connectivity,” Robert McDowell, FCC Commissioner
Internet users are scrutinized daily for certain words they use in desktop publishing and social media applications such as blogs, Facebook, websites, and Twitter.

Department of Homeland Security officials have devised a hierarchy of areas of concern in guidelines they have published for analysts tasked with computerized analysis of social media publications, phone calls – in fact any forms of electronic communications, which are to be automatically monitored by computer servers when the devices detect the use of these words.

Here is a sample of the type of words that will trigger an automatic electronic surveillance of social media publications and phone calls:

Assassination, attack, domestic security, drill, exercise, cops, law enforcement, disaster assistance, emergency management, emergency response, first responder, homeland security, maritime domain awareness, national preparedness, initiative, militia, gangs, national security, security, breach, threat standoff, SWAT, screening, hazmat, chemical spill, biological, epidemic, industrial spill, infection, power, gas, spillover, anthrax, ricin, sarin, North Korea, influenza, public health, toxic, antiviral, resistant, infection, sick...etc.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chilling cross examination in Jason Abdo trial

Violence, soldier on soldier, in thought, words  
Waco – It's been a long war; it's a war that is carried out daily, now, on the streets of our nation - at the gates of our forts.

The war has been going on long enough that there are people rapidly approaching young adulthood who don't remember anything else, young people who can't recall any conditions other than the status quo.

Arriving at the Federal Courthouse in this city, a yellow brick affair with limestone trim, expansive north facing window lights, Spanish tile accents, a study in faux Moorish architecture, one is confronted by the latest security precaution.

No visitors are allowed to carry a cell phone into the premises.

No need asking why. There have been hundreds upon hundreds of depredations worldwide that were provoked, provided or performed with the use of a cell phone. The Federal Court Service guard, chipper and cheerful in blue blazer and rep tie, is easily appeased with a grateful attitude and a promise to return after stowing the phone in the car.

On return, he says, “Now, then, let's try this again,” in a hearty tone of voice.

In reply, The Legendary says, with a smile big as Dallas, “Some days, the dragon wins, sir...” We both smile, then laugh it off.

We both laughed, but underneath, the reality remains. When the enemy has forced you to begin doing things differently than you had always done them, back in a world we left far, far behind - many years ago - the battle is not really going in the favor of one's side.

Not really.

On the witness stand in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, FBI Special Agent Richard Stryker is going through that peculiarly pettifogging formality known as cross examination.

Defense Counsel Zachary Boyd is putting him through his paces, recalling his previous testimony elicited by prosecutors about laboratory efforts to replicate the construction and detonation of an improvised explosive device by following the instructions provided in a magazine article published by Al Qaida.

“Make A Bomb In The Kitchen Of Your Mom” instructs would-be terrorists in the construction of a deadly fragmentation device by using a 16-quart aluminum pressure cooker coated on the inside with contact cement to which BB's adhere, then stuffed with smokeless gun powder and detonated with a Christmas tree bulb whose bare filaments are thrust through a hole in the cooker's lid.

The detonator is designed to be attached to the face of an alarm clock whose hands are to be brought into contact with two nails to complete an electrical circuit, thus detonating the highly volatile gunpowder.

The two are involved in the rambling but always polite thrust and parry of a skillful cross examiner putting question after question to an expert witness, often the same question stated multiple ways, while the opposing counsel objects frequently to leading the witness, calling for a conclusion, or an argumentative style.

One learns that the bomb was not constructed in exactly the way the terrorists' magazine instructed, that putting an “electric match” for purposes of safety in the bottom of the pressure cooker instead of the top does not necessarily produce a shaped charge, and that matters of common sense are not universal to all folks on the planet, in the expert opinion of Agent Stryker, who remains courteous and cheerful enough throughout the inquisitive onslaught.

At one point, he answers his interlocutor by saying, “Regardless of where it was, it would make it no less of a bomb.”

Onwards. Police who apprehended Jason Naser Abdo to his hotel near the main gate of Ft. Hood last July 27 recall that he was advised of his rights under the Miranda decision, that he had a handgun in his backpack, and that, yes, they isolated him immediaely, put him in handcuffs and transported him to a secure law enforcement center in order to better control the situation while they questioned him and other investigators searched his room.

A certain Lt. Boone is seen in a video drawing his pistol, pointing it at Mr. Abdo and ordering him to assume a prone position face down under the ramada of the motel where a taxi is waiting for him.

Detective Willie Winfield is questioned extensively about whether the video camera in the police car swiveled, and whether he read Mr. Abdo his rights.

“Is it true that you really didn't read that Miranda warning?” the defense attorney asked the young detective.

“No, sir, it is not,” he answered. At this point, the 5-man, 7-woman jury panel began to fidget. They're the kind of middle-aged people you see every day in the bank, the post office, the grocery story. They clearly aren't the kind of people who are willing to put up with a lot of this nonsense. In fact, a couple of the gentlemen's eyes narrow to a squint; they run a protesting forefinger around their collars, and snort in a subdued way. Several of the women heave a sigh.

It's a nasty story, and then the government rests, and the jurors are removed from the courtroom while Judge Walter Smith considers Mr. Boyd's Bill of Exceptions, 24 in number and offered under the terms of Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Under that rule, after the close of evidnce, a defendant may move for a judgment of acquittal for any offense for which the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction.

The highlights are provocative enough. Mr. Boyd asserts that the conscientious objector packet Mr. Abdo filled out at his former duty station, an Army fort in Kentucky that is the home of the 101st Airborne, was deemed insufficient. A prosecutor immediately objects that the matter is irrelevant.

It was the reason Mr. Abdo gave investigators for his alleged plot to detonate a bomb in a crowded restaurant that is popular with soldiers at Ft. Hood. He objects to the conduct of his fellow soldiers toward adherents of Islam, his chosen religious faith. It was for this reason he joined the jihad, this simple one-word concept, which is Arabic for "peace.".

A certain Lieutenant Colonel reviewed allegations that the soldier was in possession of child pornography, charges which Mr. Boyd says were “ultimately proved to be without probable cause.”

Playing a video of the attempted detonation of an explosive device built by the FBI “misleads jurors” because, he reminds the judge, “Mr. Abdo did not buid a bomb.”

The defense attorney objects to the way the federal statute against making home made bombs is written; he asserts that it “allows Mr. Abdo to be convicted for his mens rea alone, and not his mens rea and actus rea together.”

In effect, he implies, the government is trying to send a man to the federal penitentiary to serve a potential life sentence for what he was thinking, not for what he did.

In asking for the acquittal, he said, “The government has failed to prove its case in chief, Your Honor.”

At this point, the gallery and officers of the court were treated to the sight of the venerable white-headed judge throwing his hands up in disgust and reverting to a hostile and abravise tone much unlike his usual silky smooth affect and manner of speaking.

Judge Smith thundered, “Do you have all that in writing so you could just submit it without standing up there and reading all that nonsense?” Most people looked at the floor, or at some point in mid-space, somewhere about a thousand yards distant.

Clouds whizzing along high above brought intense sunlight to the air shaft outside the expansive windows of the courtroom, alternately throwing its ornate study in beige, brown and walnut tones into shadow, then the stark relief of intense sunshine bright enough to make the copper nail heads in the ornately decorated hardwood doors shine with a brilliant copper fire that diminshed, then blazed anew, over and over, while Mr. Boyd stood at the lectern silently, looking at the toes of his brightly polished dress shoes.

After a long, rambling explanation, Judge Smith again threw up his hands in capitulaton, exclaiming, “It would be quicker for you to just go ahead, and just read what you're reading.”

After some desultory questioning of a couple of witnesses, the defense rested, and Judge Smith sent the jury to lunch while he prepared his instructions for them, to be followed by the final arguments of counsel.

All the while, the Army deserter and conscientious objector, Jason Naser Abdo, sat quietly, his facial expressions hidden by a surgical mask he is forced to wear over a scraggly beard he has grown.

Its purpose is simple enough. It is there to keep him from biting through his lip or his tongue and spitting blood on the guards who lead him in and out of court.

Somewhere, an eagle screamed – out loud, and bold as ever.

We The People all stood respectfully, as the jurors left the courtroom, then waited while the elderly man of the law strode into his chambers, his black robe trailing behind him.

What was told, what was taught, what was learned - is simple enough. When the chips are down – as they always are in love and war – you're going to believe in something.

Believe it.

The revolution never ended...Believe it.

Sawbones who fingered Osama headed for jail

Peshawar, Pakistan – Big dogs in the Obama Administration are barking loudly for the release of a doctor who helped CIA identify Osama bin Laden a year ago.

Shakil Afridi operated a vaccination program in the black for the company in the town of Abbottabad in order to collect DNA evidence for verification of Mr. bin Laden's identity.

Once the job was done, Navy Seal Team 6 closed in for the kill, leaving Al Qaida to reshuffle its top ranks. This really left highly placed officials in Pakistan steaming because the American government did not check with them first.

They are so angry, Dr. Afridi found himself today being sentenced to 33 years in prison for high treason. But the Pakistanis aren't the only ones who are uptight.

The Obama White House is making faces over the fact that the Pakistani government refuses to reopen NATO supply lines into Afghanistan, closed six months ago when American airstrikes left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead in their tracks.

Eight-liner case turned on technology, video

Waco – As the case against Raed Alzreiqi progressed, the prosecution showed item after item of evidence on a large screen.

Video of the gambling parlor operator unspooled before jurors' eyes as undercover detectives of the Waco police pointed out his actions and those of his “attendants” with the red, squiggly dot of a laser pen.

The officers appeared at the points on the tape mentioned in the droning series of questions and answers, pointed to the items of evidence they obtained such as money they were paid when their keno numbers or slot machine spins came up winners, and identified the items in evidence bags they logged into the property room.

They said of the currency inside the little transparent bags, “I recognize my handwriting,” when asked how they knew it was the evidence they deposited therein on any certain day.

In each case, Assistant DA Chris Bullagian would ask them, “At any point, did the he offer you to pick out any of the stuffed animals?” The answer in every case was, “No.”

The point is that the violation of the Texas Penal Code under examination makes the distinction that a gambling device or any scheme involving games of skill or chance are perfectly legal – unless money changes hands when one “wins.”

At that point, the offense involved becomes a Class C misdemeanor for the player and a Class A misdemeanor offense for the one who is operating the game, neither of which are punishable by time in prison. The maximum penalty is either 6 months in the county lockup, or a year in confinement and fines of $2,000 and $4,000 respectively.

If a winner is rewarded with a prize of a decorative pewter platter or a fuzzy stuffed rabbit, it's perfectly legal unless the “gift” is more than 10 times the worth of the original wager.

In the testimony elicited from the women who ran the “General Mart” at 1808 W. Waco Dr. during the months between late December 2009 and the day the police served the search warrant in August of 2011, no one recalled a gambler selecting any of the loud, flashy, tawdry merchandise that has lain so many years in the glass display cases of the gambling parlor.

The marginality of the neighborhood and the commercial property itself is accentuated by the obvious squalor and general filth made so obvious by the unpitying glare of the video cameras and digital still photographs snapped at the time.

The people sitting around in little swivel chairs before the shabbily constructed electronic slot machines don't look like they were having all that good a time at their wagers – at least not at the moment when their freedom was up in the air. None of them were arrested.

There is little glamor to be obtained in a place like 1808 W. Waco Dr. Gamblers are treated to free soft drinks and bags of chips and other snacks as they play.

There are the pictures of such items as two pharmacy bottles of Hydrocodone pain pills, a subcompact semi-auto pistol in a drawer, and the stacks and stacks of spiral-bound notebooks chronicling the amount paid “IN” on each machine, and the equally laconic amounts penned in backslanted feminine handwriting, the amounts paid “OUT” on any given day.

Notes were kept on the liberality of the pay-outs of the machines, noting that machine number so and so of the total of 13 shabbily constructed computer monitors housed in flat black painted cabinets made of particle board, was doing “awesome!” - or the occasional missive, “Not worth Sh_t!” when the figure is preceded by a minus sign. That means the establishment paid out more to winners than the machine took in.

Perhaps the moment that crystallized the presentation of evidence and testimony came when a detective identified a Western Union credit slip for an international wire transfer of money to foreign shores. The document showed that Mr. Alzreiqi sent $500 out of the country, tax free.

The faces of the jurors, all of whom wore the casual costumes of hard-working men and women, seemed to turn to stone when they saw that bit of evidence, a cash register tape blown up to many times its actual size, depicted on the big screen in the dimminished lighting of the courtroom.

Therein lies the evidence that could send Mr. Alzreiqi to the insitutional division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Had no money changed hands on winning and losing wagers, he would have been involved in a perfectly legal pursuit. Similarly, had the estabishment been operated by, or by the agent of, a non-profit fraternal, religious or civic organization, gambling for money
would have been no violation of the law.

In fact, they were chosen for their ability to remember the faces of others among the ranks of the steady players. Only they were paid in cash. Persons unknown to them were paid in “gift certificates,” a wager that gave them little incentive to keep coming back.

When consulted about the nature of the organized crime statute under which Mr. Alzreiqi was prosecuted, Section 71.02 of the Texas Penal Code, his defense counsel said with a grim smile, “My problem with all this is that out of all the people involved in all this, he (Mr. Alzrieqi) is the only one who is being prosecuted.”

The jurors were charged to make two findings on two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity. Did the defendant engage in illegal gambling activity in a combination with two or more others?

Their answer to both questions was - yes.

As he awaited the verdict, Mr. Alzreiqi, a slightly built man with an olive complexion and pronounced Eurasian features, asked defense counsel Doug Henager if he could leave for awhile.

Mr. Henager patiently explained that he was free to go, but that if the jurors sent a note out to the judge asking a question, or if they suddenly returned with a verdict, he would have to be available. He was told not to go too far away. The time was 4 p.m.

And so, the kingpin of the “combination” spent his last few minutes of freedom for the foreseeable future sitting utterly alone on a bench in the third-floor rotunda of McLennan County's rococo 19th century palace of justice. The felony offense is punishable by not more than 10 years imprisonment or less than two, a $10,000 fine, and/or both.

Asked if one could make a snapshot of him, he replied with a polite smile, “I am thinking I do not like this very much.” The jury returned their verdict at 4:30, within 15 minutes after taking a restroom break and reassembling in the jury deliberation room.

The prosecutor had earlier estimated each machine had a net yield after expenses of about $24,000 per month - for a gross of more than a half million dollars per year in positive, untaxed cash flow.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pair duck Pct. 1 debate, Snell alone faces voters

(Click the picture of The Legendary lower on this page to hear an audio news report on this on the Black T-shirt News on Hog Shed Radio at 10 a.m., Wednesday, May 23)

Robinson – When Kelly Snell stepped to the podium, he was alone, standing at a podium in a meeting room at the Hampton Inn, facing a hostile crowd of voters fed up with higher taxes.

His two challengers, Steve Janics and Trey Kizer, failed to show up for a debate on the issues.

The even't sponsor, Bill Foster, editor and publisher of “The Waco Citizen,” was forced to make a last-minute move from the Robinson Chamber of Commerce Building to the hotel.

Though the first-term Precinct 1 McLennan County Commissioner has vowed to seek only 3 terms, Mr. Snell was hard-pressed to make constituents understand that he and his colleagues control only the tax rate, not the appraisal of their property.

You would have thought he was a seasoned hack, a veteran of many terms, judging by the attitude of his interlocutors.

One man in the crowd said he has paid consistently at minimum of $1,000 more in taxes as a result.

Mr. Snell explained he has a three-point plan to lower valuations.

First, members of the McLennan Appraisal District Board should elected at large, by registered voters.

Secondly, members should be voted on by one man, one vote, and not on a point system apportioned by the worth of the taxable properties in their districts.

Last, members' terms should be limited to three two-year terms.

But the deficit spending on the county jail system attracted the most attention.

Though Mr. Snell bragged that he has been able to reduce McLennan County's spending by about $1.9 million a year during his term, he acknowledged that the $7,000 to $14,000 a day it's costing to house overflow prisoners in the Jack Harwell Detention Center operated by CEC, Inc., is an offset that nullifies their best efforts.

“I wasn't a commissioner when they voted that jail in, you've got to remember,” Mr. Snell reminded his questioners.

A man came forward with questions he would have asked Mr. Snell's opponents, had they been there.
For Mr. Kizer, he asked, how would his conviction for DWI square with employees of the County who would lose their jobs is convicted for the same offense. “Is this a case of do as I say, and not as I do?” he asked.

For Mr. Janics, he asked, how would his military experience help him in running a County with a budget of $137 million per year? They were not there to answer him. 

Economic recovery - Obama, Romney tied at 47 percent

Washington - With eight out of ten Americans responding that they see the economy as the number one problem, President Barack Obama holds a slight edge in voter approval, according to a new poll released today.

According to a Washington Post/ABC News Poll, 49 percent of voters approve of Obama's re-election, while 46 percent prefer Governor Mitt Romney.

If the election were held today, the voters polled are equally divided over the question of who could best handle the economy; the candidates are in a dead heat at 47 percent each.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Targeting terrorists with drone aircraft - a brand new day

Washington – According to an Associated Press report, the White House has centered the power to determine whom will be targeted by drone Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as terrorists in one small group. 

Counterterror Chief John Brennan has gathered a new and smaller team of officials who have the power to sign off on the targets both in war zones, and elsewhere, said officials who declined to be quoted directly. Mr. Brennan's staff consults with the State Department and “other agencies” as to should be included on target lists.

According to the report, the new method of targeting terrorists makes the Pentagon's role “less relevant” than it has been in the past.(click here for the AP story)

Reject repeal of NDAA's indefinite detention provisions

Originally published at “The New American”
Special from The Tenth Amendment Center
In a shameful display of disregard for the Constitution and for liberty, on Friday, the House of Representatives voted to perpetuate the president’s power to indefinitely detain American citizens.
By a vote of 238-182, members of Congress rejected the amendment offered by Representatives Adam Smith (D-Washington) and Justin Amash (R-Michigan) that would have repealed the indefinite detention provision passed overwhelmingly last year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012.

Desperado was polite and kept a smile all the while

Six Shooter Junction – It's a great mystery, whether Tucker Peterson will appear at the Moonlight Music Festival during the singer-songwriter Musicians' Reunion on Sunday, May 27, at Bosque Bottoms Park.

That part of the show is hosted by Casey Kelley and sponsored by Al's Tokio Store.

Here's a story from way back that will give our listeners a chance to make up their own minds about old Tucker. He's a sure enough cowboy - plumb full of stunts, and a gifted writer of cowboy songs that tell a story.

It all happened a long time ago – long ago enough that there was still a prison rodeo at The Walls, Huntsville Penitentiary.

The facts may be a little bit murky, but the truth is the same. It came to pass that a certain cowboy from Norse, Texas – near deepest, darkest Clifton in Bosque County – got to robbing banks with a six gun.

From there, the story takes on a character all its own, and it's one with an ironic twist of cowboy stunts, and all such as that.

When Deputy U.S. Marshal Parnell McNamara came to get Mr. Peterson on a fugitive warrant, he noted that in the report it said the cowboy Tucker Peterson kept a big smile on his face and did nothing threatening to the women in the banks, though he was demanding money in robbery.

In fact, the tellers couldn't get over how polite the cowboy was when he said he wanted the money – pronto. He almost made it sound like a good deal for everyone concerned.

Not long ago, Tucker told The Legendary, “Old Parnell asked me, 'Tucker, what would you have done if that lady said she just wasn't going to give you any money. How about that?'

“I told him, well, Parnell, I would have run for the door about as fast as I could,” remembered Tucker Peterson.

We both cracked up.

It be that way some times. Most days, that is.

It tickled the Marshal, and he told people all about it. When the story got around, it helped Tucker Peterson get a job as a horse wrangler in the penitentiary's rodeo cowboy outfit, where he rode bareback broncs in the show.

That was his job while he was down there - doing his time.

Now, hear this:

Jury trial scheduled in 8-liner gambling case

Waco – Prosecutors and defense attorneys are picking a jury today for a trial beginning on Wednesday in 54th District Court of a man accused of engaging in organized criminal activity by operating an 8-liner gambling parlor at 1808 W. Waco Dr.

Raed Alzreiqui is charged with the offense in connection with the Class A misdemeanor of illegal gambling activity. That offense is punishable by as much as one year in the County Jail or a $4,000 fine, or both.

If the offense concerns engaging in organized criminal activity, the punishment may be enhanced to felony status if on trial the offense is shown to involve a combination of fraud, forgery, money laundering, deceptive practices, computer crimes, bribery and corrupt influence, perjury and other falsifications in crimes against public administration.

Billy Joe Shaver to headline Moonlight Music Fest

Marine combat veteran Caleb Duty announced a solid outlaw country lineup for the Moonlight Music Festival May 25-27 at Bosque Bottoms Park in Meridian.

Billy Joe Shaver headlines Friday night, with Granger Smith wrapping up the show on Saturday evening.

Casey Kelley will host a singer-songwriter musicians reunion on Sunday, the 27th sponsored by Al's Tokio Store. Music begins daily at 3 pm and ends at midnight.

The festival is dedicated to returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, a large percentage of whom are amongst the homeless and the brave.

Overnight camping is considered de rigeur. Arrangements should be made in advance.

Tickets are available online at or by calling 254-644-6137 or 254-722-8940.

Rocks, bottles, tear gas flies at G8/Nato summit

'All quiet until the end of the march'-AP

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Judge rules NDAA detention sections unconstitutional

By Adam Klasfeld
Courthouse News Service

MANHATTAN (CN) - A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction late Wednesday to block provisions of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that would allow the military to indefinitely detain anyone it accuses of knowingly or unknowingly supporting terrorism.

Signed by President Barack Obama on New Year's Eve, the 565-page NDAA contains a short paragraph, in statute 1021, letting the military detain anyone it suspects "substantially supported" al-Qaida, the Taliban or "associated forces." The indefinite detention would supposedly last until "the end of hostilities."

In a 68-page ruling blocking this statute, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest agreed that the statute failed to "pass constitutional muster" because its broad language could be used to quash political dissent.

"There is a strong public interest in protecting rights guaranteed by the First Amendment," Forrest wrote. "There is also a strong public interest in ensuring that due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment are protected by ensuring that ordinary citizens are able to understand the scope of conduct that could subject them to indefinite military detention."

Weeks after Obama signed the law, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges filed a lawsuit against its so-called "Homeland Battlefield" provisions.

Several prominent activists, scholars and politicians subsequently joined the suit, including Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg; Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Noam Chomsky; Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir; Kai Wargalla, an organizer from Occupy London; and Alexa O'Brien, an organizer for the New York-based activist group U.S. Day of Rage.

They call themselves the Freedom Seven.

In a signing statement, Obama contended that the language in Section 1021 "breaks no new ground" and merely restates the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF).

Government lawyers whistled the same tune to swat away the lawsuit, but they failed to convince the judge that no changes had been made.

"Section 1021 tries to do too much with too little - it lacks the minimal requirements of definition and scienter that could easily have been added, or could be added, to allow it to pass constitutional muster," Forrest wrote.

Scienter refers to a person's knowledge that a law is being violated.
     "For the reasons set forth below, this court finds that § 1021 is not merely an 'affirmation' of the AUMF," Forrest wrote. "To so hold would be contrary to basic principles of legislative interpretation that require Congressional enactments to be given independent meaning. To find that § 1021 is merely an 'affirmation' of the AUMF would require this court to find that § 1021 is a mere redundancy - that is, that it has no independent meaning and adds absolutely nothing to the government's enforcement powers."

Brushing aside that argument, Judge Forrest took aim at government arguments that the NDAA did not affect Hedges and his co-plaintiffs personally.
"Here, the uncontradicted testimony at the evidentiary hearing was that the plaintiffs have in fact lost certain First Amendment freedoms as a result of the enactment of § 1021," Forrest wrote.

At a hearing in March, three of the plaintiffs testified that the possibility of government repression under the NDAA made them reconsider how they approached their journalism and activism.

Guardian journalist Naomi Wolf read testimony from Jonsditir, who prepared a statement saying that she would not visit the U.S. for fear of detention.
 Forrest alluded to this testimony in her decision.
  "Hedges, Wargalla, and Jonsdottir have changed certain associational conduct, and O'Brien and Jonsdittir have avoided certain expressive conduct, because of their concerns about § 1021. Moreover, since plaintiffs continue to have their associational and expressive conduct chilled, there is both actual and continued threatened irreparable harm," she wrote.
     "In addition, it is certainly the case that if plaintiffs were detained as a result of their conduct, they could be detained until the cessation of hostilities - i.e., an indeterminate period of time," Forrest continued. "Being subjected to the risk of such detention, particularly in light of the Government's inability to represent that plaintiffs' conduct does not fall with § 1021, must constitute a threat of irreparable harm. The question then is: Is that harm immediate? Since the Government will not say that the conduct does not fall outside of §1021, one cannot predict immediacy one way or the other. The penalty we know would be severe."

The judge added that she did not make the decision lightly.

"This court is acutely aware that preliminarily enjoining an act of Congress must be done with great caution," she wrote."

"However, it is the responsibility of our judicial system to protect the public from acts of Congress which infringe upon constitutional rights. As set forth above, this court has found that plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits regarding their constitutional claim and it therefore has a responsibility to insure that the public's constitutional rights are protected."

In a phone conference, the plaintiffs' attorneys Bruce Afran and Carl Mayer hailed what they called a "complete victory." "America is more free today than it was yesterday due to the courageous and righteous and very sound ruling by Judge Forrest," Mayer said. "I think this is a hugely significant development... I think it's also a testament to the courage of the plaintiffs here."

One of those plaintiffs, O'Brien, was also jubilant in a separate interview.
  "I am extremely happy right now, and what I'm most happy about it is that this ruling has given me trust," O'Brien said, "Trust is the foundation of just and stable governments, and this ruling gives me hope that we can restore trust in the foundations of government."

While the U.S. Attorney's office declined comment on the ruling, Mayer urged the Obama administration to "drop it," and forego an appeal.
 "They have to come to terms with the fact that it's wholly unconstitutional," Mayer said.