Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Militia group places unconfirmed item about FEMA

Item was unsolicited

An item placed on The Legendary Jim Parks' Facebook page by a third party, attributed to Wayne and Teresa Grabs of Grace Buildings, Mexia, is unconfirmed, unsolicited, and, according to Mr. Grabs, he has no way to confirm its veracity.
Sgt. Ricky Moore

"I just hope it doesn't cause people to stop donating," said Mr. Grabs, who is a former paramedic and volunteer fire department instructor. He taught Emergency Medical Services at McLennan Community College.

According to the item, since removed, a woman with a background in accountancy who volunteered to keep track of items donated for distribution to disaster victims at West learned that the federal agency is assigning a dollar value to bottled water, clean clothing, building materials and other items, and the amount will be deducted from any relief payments made to the City of West - if and when they are made.

"I think somebody has hacked my Facebook page," said Mr. Grabs.

Additionally, the item - an unattributed e-mail forwarded to Mr. Grabs by another party who likewise gave no attribution for the item - the FEMA officials have been collecting guns from the blast zone, and have no intention to give them back unless an owner can identify them by make, model and serial number.

"I have no way of knowing if that's true," said Mr. Grabs in a follow-up interview.

Sgt. Ricky Moore of the McLennan County Minutemen posted the item here without invitation, calling Teresa Grabs "a person of interest." Mr. Moore is seeking Certified Emergency Response Training (CERT) for his organization.

He says he cannot get the attention or cooperation of the McLennan County Sheriff's Office. He offered no reason as to why the attention he seeks is not forthcoming. Mr. Moore is a certified security guard, and claims the status of a Concealed Carry Handgun Licensee. 

According to published reports, though the West disaster has not been granted that status by President Obama, FEMA is authorized to make a 75 percent reimbursement to the expenses the blast caused the City of West. No determination has been made to date.

So it goes. - The Legendary

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Insurance sleuth: Electrical fire before West blast

Blaze extinguished 'in less than an hour'

West – Cynthia Colvin-Montgomery is a picture of frustration. Her business is stymied by FBI and ATF investigators who want to tear down structures before she can appraise the damage they sustained in the fire and explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. on Wednesday, April 17.

With an extensive background in alternative dispute resolution, mediations, investigations and the ins and outs of seeking a settlement with insurance carriers, she is adamant about her role.

Her business card, printed in bright red with reversed white type, proclaims “Proof of Loss,” her motto: “We work for you not the insurance co.” It lists a rural address near Lewisville.

She is operating under Public Adjuster Lic. No. TL 1345262.

Her claim is this.

I got in ATF agents' faces and FBI agents' faces last Saturday because they were going to start tearing down homes and I've got to go in and - you know what I've got to do...”

To do that, she explains, she first has to get in there to see what was damaged, and to what extent. She has a background in marine and industrial fumigation, but lost that license when the Department of Homeland Security took over scrutinizing all high security industries. She did not say why.

You should have seen us out in the corn fields,” she adds. They caught us trying to sneak in to get a look at the damage. They turned us around.”

In other words, in a disaster area with a crater 90 feet wide and 10 feet deep, if you destroy the evidence, then it can no longer be treated as either a crime scene, as officials have proclaimed, or a scene of a horrible accident, which must be appraised. So it goes.

In an electrifying aside, she looks sidelong, says over the blaring sounds of a country band playing an outdoor benefit for the homeless homeowners and injured survivors of the blast, “Did you know there was an electrical fire out there, earlier in the day?”

At what time, and according to whom, she is asked.

She won't say. An electrician with whom she has negotiated a contract must first give his approval to be named, she said.

They had it out in less than an hour.”

The problem, she says, is that “These people won't sue.”

She sounds amazed. It seems to be a cultural thing, this reluctance to enter into litigious controversy among members of the Bohemian and Moravian-American community of West.

I had a whole bunch of women down at the motel. None of them seem aware that their lives are in jeopardy, that they have no home.” She shrugs in frustration.

What, exactly, did the electrician do?

He flipped the switches, re-set the breakers, and went back to the shop to write up an estimate of what it would take to fix the problem.”

Where did the problem occur?

She says only that she knows it was at the fertilizer company, in which a fire burned briefly before a massive explosion heard as far away as Arlington and felt in Hillsboro blew the building sky high, flattened nearly a hundred homes.

"You know, the men in black will probably come take you away if you write this up and print it?"

Yeah? Whatever.

She asks, in parting, "Are you a conspiracist?" I answer, "No, ma'am, I'm a newsman. "Are the federal authorities investigating, or are they covering up?" she asks
  • The Legendary
NEXT: The Legendary will conduct a records search in an attempt to locate mention of the electrical fire so alleged...

Social media prompted murder charges, attorneys say

ORLANDO — If it was not for social media, said attorneys who figure in the racially charged Trayvon Martin case, very probably no charges would have been filed.
Trayvon Martin

The attorney handling the defense of George Zimmerman, the young man accused of murdering Trayvon Martin, said social media will impact how a jury will be picked in the case.

“I think that if I could do away with all media, including all social media, that I would not have it involved in a criminal case,” said Mark O’Mara. “But that’s a fantasy that is 40 years ago.”
George Zimmerman
He and Benjamin Crump, the attorney who represents the parents of Trayvon Martin, both spoke at the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters Banquet.
Mr. Crump said that social media has given “people who normally would not have a voice in matters like this” a forum to engage in the case.
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, fatally shot Martin in February 2012 during a confrontation in Sanford, about 30 miles north of Orlando.
He is charged with second-degree murder and says he was attacked and acted in self-defense. Martin’s family says Zimmerman targeted the unarmed 17-year-old mainly because Martin was black. Zimmerman’s parents are white and Hispanic.
O’Mara said that if it were not for the intense coverage on the shooting, Zimmerman “may never have been charged.” Now since he is, the case “probably would have been addressed as a matter at a self-immunity hearing and it would have gone away that way.”
Zimmerman’s trial is in June.

Friday, April 26, 2013

President, 10,000 people honor fallen firefighters

1953 decision signaled new law for victims of 1947ammonium nitrate blast at Texas City

My brother lived his dash... - brother of a firefighter felled at West, Texas 

Waco – In the ancient elemental scheme of air, fire, water and Earth, this time water and air conspired against men to make fire.


It was the angry, unreasoning, all-consuming kind that consumes all – everything – in an instant of mad consumption that sucks the air out of heaven and goes bang, shaking Earth, herself, to her very roots.

The fire at the West Fertilizer Co. at first displayed the startlingly bright shade of orange that so fascinates observers every time ammonium nitrate burns, and as it burned, the heat gained critical mass, a moment when it leveled 70 houses and left the people who live in homeless, killed 12 firefighters who battled the blaze, and left an additional three elderly persons who lived in a nearby rest home dead.

Experts estimate $100 million in damage.

That is how volatile the chemical compound ammonium nitrate can be when it gets wet and begins to heat past the point of explosion. When combined with petroleum distillates, it takes on the dual purpose of one of the world's most effective blasting agents.

Yesterday, the nation gathered around televisions and computers as a standing room only audience left Baylor University's 10,000-seat basketball arena with only a few vacancies – 4,000 of them occupied by visiting firefighters from many states.

They watched as each of 12 families who lost loved ones who first responded to the blaze told the world about their fireman – a father, brother, uncle – and what he meant to them.

Their names are Robert Snokhous, Perry Wayne Calvin, Cody Dragoo, Douglas James Snokhous, Jerry Chapman, Jimmy Ray Matus, Kevin William Sanders, William Ray Uptmor, Morris Bridges, Kenneth Luckey Harris, Jr., Joseph Joe Frank Putjovsky, Jr., and Cyrus Adam Reed.

One man referred to the dash between a man's birth date and the date of his death by saying, “My brother lived his dash.” His words bore mute testimony to the lively sports-minded, outdoorsy and crafty nature of each of the victims.

The political tableau resembled an incongruous Mount Rushmore grouping in a nation so divided by fiscal concerns, wars inside and outside its borders, social policies, and the means by which one may protect family and friends from violent aggression.

Dignitaries from every political persuasion, both left and right, lined up on-stage and in VIP seating to pay their respects to the men who battle this emergency on a daily basis and risk their lives with the insouciance of pragmatism braced by the heroic beau geste of a cavalier, a man on horseback who will face hell's fire to save the lives of his neighbors.

That's the kind of primordial, universal and terrifying enemy that fire and explosion really represents to men and women of reason and good will.

You could hear it in their voices, hushed and respectful.

The ancient Biblical quote was voiced over and over during the ceremonies, that a man can “give no greater gift” than to lay down his life to save that of a friend.

Judge Ken Starr, once a special prosecutor who took on a President and First Lady for alleged high crimes and misdemeanors that ultimately led to a nearly successful bid to impeach President William Jefferson – Slick Willie – Clinton, and now holds down the top job at the nation's largest private religious university, harkened the words of “America's great poet laureate,” Robert Frost.

An appointee of President John F. Kennedy and a fellow Massachusetts man, Mr. Frost wrote a famous poem about mending fences, verse that concluded “Good fences make good neighbors.”

“Today,” said Judge Starr, “there are no fences.”

Gov. Rick Perry voiced similar sentiments, as did a staunchly conservative Sen. John Cornyn.

And when President Barack Hussein Obama took to the microphone, he quoted a Psalm about the nation of Israel having been tested by fire and by water.

The stage craft of one of the world's great institutions of higher learning told the story under bright lights – in stereo and in high definition video images – and no one came away from the ceremonies with anything other than a profound respect for what took place a few minutes after 7 pm on April 17, 2013, an event that took place 66 years after what is considered the world's worst industrial accident, the ammonium nitrate blast at Texas City on April 18, 1947.

Aside from taking the lives of 405 identified and 63 unidentified persons, the explosion that occurred when 3,300 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded and set off chain reactions at the Monsanto Chemical Co. and the Union Carbide plant, set new precedent in federal law.

There were 5,000 injuries, and half that number of hospitalizations.

In 300 wrongful death and property damage cases combined and heard by the U.S. Supreme Court as Dalehite v. U.S. (346 U.S. 15), the very basic nature of the interpretation of the Federal Torts Act was forever altered to include government culpability due to regulation as to the production quotas of ammonium nitrate set by the War Production Office during World War Two, and carried forward post-war.

The government continued to require the production at war time quota levels due to a need for fertilizer in Europe and Japan.

Excessive moisture figured in both disasters, moisture that led to heat and the resulting rapid ignition of a fuel and air resulting first in fire, and then in a violent explosion.

At quitting time on Thursday, April 17, 2013, the most trusted man in Central Texas broadcast meteorology, Rusty Garrett of KWTX Channel 10, told viewers to get ready for a very strong northwest wind followed by violent thundershowers and a marked drop in temperature accompanying a cold front within the next couple of hours.

Mr. Garrett was talking about a swath of Edwards Plateau prairie on the shirt tail end of Tornado Alley, an area of the world that is known to generate winds strong enough to buckle metal silos, rip barns and industrial plants to pieces, and level thick walls made of stone and brick.

The 1947 disaster developed when fire broke out in a cargo hold of the SS Grandcamp, laden with 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate in paper sacks. Longshoremen tried to put the fire out with extinguishers and fire hoses, to no avail.

The longshoremen reported that the sacks already laden were hot to the touch as the cranes lowered more pallet loads of ammonium nitrate into the hold. Orange smoke was pouring from between a bulkhead that divided the interior of the cargo hold from the outer skin of the vessel.

Finally, the captain of Grandcamp, a former U.S. Liberty ship then registered to a French navigation company, ordered the holds sealed and steam pumped into the watertight compartments in an effort to control and extinguish the blaze, which burned with a bright orange smoke much admired by people in the area, who stood in their yards and along the roadside as they watched in fascination, much the way the victims did at West.
When the explosion came, the violent chemical reaction soon spread to the SS High Flyer, similarly laden with 1,000 tons of ammonium nitrate, and the resulting chain reaction spread to a fuel barge moored in the slip, to oil storage tanks at a nearby refinery, to the Union Carbide installation, and the Monsanto Chemical Co.

Windows shattered in Galveston, 20 miles across the bay. The ground shook and buildings rattled in Houston, 40 miles away. The blast was so violent it hurled a 2-ton anchor from Grandcamp 1.62 miles, where it landed in a 10-foot crater. A massive bronze propeller from High Flyer flew through the air to its resting place one mile distant.

Like the ships laden with ammonium nitrate, the storage area at the fertilizer company was without automatic fire prevention equipment in the form of a sprinkler system, according to meticulous records kept by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. As in the post-war era, ammonium nitrate is heavily regulated as both a hazardous material and an agricultural fertilizer used on subsidized crops such as cotton, maize and corn.

But none of what is surely to follow came under discussion at ceremonies held at 2 pm yesterday, Thursday, April 25, at Baylor University.
County Judge Scott Felton and Sheriff Parnell McNamara

Mercifully, members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, made no appearance to admonish and remonstrate with the world about how God hates homosexuals and the policies of the U.S. Armed Forces toward the proclivities of certain people who do not necessarily agree with the mainstream interpretation of God's will when it comes to sex. The actual bearing of their complaints on the funeral services of fallen soldiers has never been explained.

It is a great mystery, punctuated by the obnoxious behavior of the church's members, who travel great distances to demonstrate their displeasure.

Sheriff Parnell McNamara took personal responsibility in a televised press conference. He confronted the activists with the dire warning that they would be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law,” should they do anything to mar the tranquility of the funerals of “our heros.”

He was in attendance at the Baylor memorial service, surrounded by constitutional officers from McLennan County government. He was not wearing his signature silver belly Stetson.

Secret Service Agents stand in 'vectored' posture, scanning 10,000 people for danger signs of violence

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hackers twit stock market for $136 billion plunge

Bigwigs follow FBI investigation

The Apple – Washington is sitting up and taking notice as the FBI bloodhounds sniff out an unlikely scenario that set off a $136 billion free fall in stocks trading earlier this week.

Someone calling themselves the Syrian Electronic Army waylaid and bamboozled the Associated Press Twitter account, thereby convincing the world that 1)explosions rocked the White House, and 2) President Obama was a victim.

It's not the first time it's happened. In recent memory, the mighty BBC, NPR, and CBS have all succumbed to similar stunts, their credibility besmirched – if only for the moment.

Big shots at the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commissions are following the resulting FBI investigation with what can only be described as alacrity and adamantine singleness of purpose – to say the least.

Cops, feds mum on massive sweep through Oakland

Authorities promised to reveal more about a massive sweep through Oakland and San Leandro that started in late afternoon and continued until 10:20 p.m. on Wednesday.

Officers and agents arrested nine persons within the first hour, according to published reports. Oakland Police, California Highway Patrol, and FBI agents kept mum about the purpose or scope of the raids as the joint task force fanned out across the east bay, rounding up suspects at multiple locations. 

Officials said they will not discuss the matter until the operation is secured.

Arson sleuths continue to survey debris at West

Memorial service to air by livestreaming on the internet

When as many as 4,000 firefighters stream into Baylor University's Ferrell Center to honor fallen comrades who lost their lives trying to prevent the explosion at West, people will be able to watch live on their computers.

By accessing the website of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation at http://firehero.org/westtexas/ viewers will be able to hear and see President Obama's message, and as the solemn occasion happens, beginning at 2 pm. Parking for the public is available in lots C and D at the Ferrell Center, and seating for the public is available on a first come, first served basis beginning at 11 a.m., once all firefighters are seated.

Overflow seating will be provided at the Julie and Jim Turner Riverfront Athletic Park, 1612 S. University Parks Dr., where the event will be broadcast.

Key roads and streets leading to the sports arena will be blocked off at 10:30 a.m. amid heightened security in anticipation of the presidential visit. No sharp objects, umbrellas, signs, knives, guns, or liquids will be allowed inside the building, but cameras are.

BATFE and the Texas Fire Marshal released the first photographs of the actual blast site at the West Fertilizer Co., where arson investigators continue to fork, turn and inspect the rubble as it landed following the massive explosion of an estimated 270 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

According to the latest preliminary reports, the tanks that contained the anyhdrous ammonia never ruptured, the ignition point for the fire, and the cause for the explosion remains under investigation.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Texas Lottery is dead (D.O.A.?)

Cut cash flow of $4 billion to reduce general fund by $1 billion
Rep. Steve Toth, R-Woodlands, a Tea Party activist and elected official
"Money talks and principal goes by the way side. On second reading, 30 people folded and the Lotto survives." - Rep. Toth

BREAKING NEWS from the House Floor. The Lottery Commission just went down in a vote of 81 Nays to 65 Ayes. Folks, at this time, the Texas Lottery is dead. The State of Texas takes nearly $4 Billion each year from the poor so that we can add $1 Billion to general revenue. Surely we can either cut the budget by a Billion rather than taking it from the poor. - Rep. Steve Toth, R-Woodlands

Failure to pass the bill leaves the state government with no Texas Lottery Commission to operate the massive gambling operation.

State officials estimated that the failure of the Sunset Bill, which originated in the House of Representatives, will reduce the Permanent School Fund by $1.04 billion and will cost cities and counties $27.3 million in funds generated by charitable bingo.

A fascinating aside:
For clarity on the Lottery vote. This is a provision of the Sunset Commission. This was not legislation that was introduced by anyone. With all due respect, I don't want to make anyone angry. The State of Texas and the Fed spend billions of dollars every year feeding, clothing and housing the poor. The Feds even give them free cell phones. Study after study shows that State Lotteries do not work unless they are marketed towards the poor who are supported with our tax dollars. In fact most State's Lottery marketing campaigns are timed to revolve around welfare and social security check distributions. One more thing; The top 5% of lottery players nationally spend nearly $3,400 annually on tickets, accounting for over half of all ticket sales (roughly 40% making less than $13,000 a year). The top 10% spend an average of $2,250 annually and that accounts for two thirds of the annual sales.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

April 19, 2013, the day martial law returned to Boston

The Legendary will be down today, Monday, April 22, in protest of government meddling and spying through CISPA

ATF, Firemen treat West blast site as 'crime scene'

Comb fertilizer plant for arson

West – Arson investigators and crime scene technicians labored into the night under intense lights as state police treated the site of an explosion that leveled the West Fertilizer Co. as a crime scene.

State troopers and investigators have set up inner and outer perimeters covering dozens of square blocks around the site of the blast, which demolished the West Fertilizer Co. and leveled 80 homes, killing 15 persons – five of them firemen.

When asked questions about where the investigators' headquarters are, the areas that have been opened to the public, police officers, including State Game Wardens, responded by saying only, “I don't know.”

One officer, who chose not to identify himself, said, “They're treating it like a crime scene...”

Earlier, some parts of the surrounding area were opened to residents, who were allowed to re-occupy their property under the limited terms of a 7 pm to 7 am curfew.

Insurance investigators from major carriers set up temporary claims and investigative offices in RV's parked along the railroad tracks that split the downtown area and run just to the east of the industrial site where the explosion occurred.

Accident and hazardous materials clean-up specialists set up shop, as well as mobile crane operators and railroad repair crews, who will begin the task of rebuilding the railroad right of way.

The explosion, which left the rails bent like spaghetti, leveled and burned numerous buildings, and inured as many as two hundred residents.

Environmental regulators with the State of Texas as well as EPA officials noted in reports that the operators of the plant did not have the proper fire sprinkler systems in place in a room where as much as 270 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer was stored, and a tank of anhydrous ammonia exploded with the force of a small earthquake.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Children could have been saved 'If they never came'

The Helen Marie Taylor Museum of Waco History

Waco – It's all so simple, thought Helen Marie Taylor, as she sat an listened to a government agent brag about his performance as a hostage negotiator.

At a Baylor Seminar on the Branch Davidian raid, standoff, and massacre, an FBI  negotiator said with pride that he saved some of the children during the 1993 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound.

He persuaded David Koresh to allow them to leave, he claimed.

He could have saved them all, if they (the FBI) had just left,” Ms. Taylor decided. A big part of the story had been left untold.

In the city most identified with a tragic loss of the lives of 4 ATF agents and 6 Davidians on Feb. 28, the day of the raid, and an additional 76 men, women and children on April 19, 1993, the day the Mt. Carmel compound burned to the ground in a matter of a few minutes following a tank assault directed by the FBI, no public event was planned to commemorate the event. 

It didn't happen in Waco, the reasoning goes, an item often repeated during the debacle that lasted 51 days.

So Ms. Taylor decided to allow the Davidians and the public to hold just such an event at the Museum of Waco History, located at 701 Jefferson, though the tragedy occurred at the Elk community, near Bellmead.

It's a Waco thing, she reasoned.

Clive Doyle looked back 20 years and recalled the day his daughter lost her life in the fire, the day he escaped with his life and began serving time for offenses with which he was charged, and later wound up serving time in prison.

They could have saved everyone – including the children – he concluded - if the government agents had never come to serve the warrant to begin with.

It's a warrant the Davidians never saw on the day of the raid, he recalled. "Some guy in the helicopter had it..."

In an interview, he declared that Mr. Koresh invited members of the ATF squad investigating allegations of illegal weapons manufacturing to come see his inventory of rifles and parts – not once, but twice.

A former member of the Davidian sect who was embroiled in a domestic dispute over child custody, informed the government that Mr. Koresh had parts from both AR-15 lower receivers, a semi-automatic weapon, and from fully automatic M-16 rifles. They used that information to develop an affidavit of probable cause that alleged he was combining the parts to manufacture fully automatic weapons, for which he had no permits.

When the ATF agents arrived, clad in riot gear, armored vests, and carrying assault weapons, they shot the dogs first, then proceeded to shoot up the building, blowing holes in the water tanks, walls and windows.

Mr. Doyle also recalled the fact that the crime scene evidence was bulldozed and trucked away, key items such as the front doors of the compound shredded, and disposed of.

Boston bombers are Chechnyan radicals

Special Report from Stratfor...

Boston - Just after 10 p.m. on April 18, the Tsarnaev brothers were identified after having robbed a convenience store in Cambridge, Mass., just three miles from Boston, hours earlier. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, who responded to the robbery, was shot and killed and found in his car by fellow responding officers. The two suspects later hijacked an SUV at gunpoint, releasing the driver unharmed. Authorities later caught up to the suspects, and a car chase ensued. 

Just after midnight, the car chase ended with a gunfight in Watertown, Mass. The suspects reportedly threw explosive devices at police, though it is not yet confirmed what types of explosives allegedly were used. During the firefight, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was wounded, taken into custody and later reported dead. Some press reports suggest he may have been wearing some sort of suicide belt or vest. Dzhokhar escaped by driving the stolen SUV through the police barricade and remains at large. According to media reports, a third accomplice was detained earlier this morning by authorities and is being questioned.

Drug testing for welfare applicants passes Texas Senate

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Terror has a face, according to FBI photos released today

These two men put their backpacks down at the places where explosions
occurred at the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15

Fertilizer plant explosion at West caught on video

State to check West fertilizer plant records for fire sprinklers required by EPA for anhydrous ammonia storage...

West – According to a permit chief at a Texas watchdog commission, the company that operated the ammonia nitrate fertilizer manufacturing plant at West told the EPA it had no automatic fire sprinkler system in 2011. 

Mike Wilson of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality told newsmen that his department requires the automatic fire control systems in areas where anyhdrous ammonia is stored and blended. 

When a fire ignited at the plant about 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17, the tanks holding the highly explosive mixture soon exploded as wind whipped the flames. The resulting explosion killed an undetermined number of people, left elderly patients struggling in collapsed portions of a convalescent home, and hundreds of people injured. 

Many wandered the streets in shock, homeless in a cold rain storm as rescuers struggled to clear the scene of survivors. A member of the family that owns the plant told newsmen earlier that it may never be known what exactly caused the fire and explosion. 

The highly volatile product is used to fertilize fields, and also to detonate explosions at rock quarries. It was used along with a mixture of diesel fuel to demolish the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in an attack on April 19, 1995.

Master Sgt filing lawsuit over arrest by Temple P.D.

Temple – Master Sergeant C.J. Grisham got mad when the Temple cops took his .45 automatic and AR-15 away from him during a Saturday morning Boy Scout hike with his son.

Now, the Iraq war veteran, who is stationed at Ft. Hood, is planning to get even. He's filing suit against the police and his lawyer is working to get a judge to drop the charges of interfering with an officer dropped.

He sent a message to his supporters, who are so voluminous he hasn't had time to write them back:

As you can imagine, things have been quite chaotic as we try to get these charges dropped and my guns returned to me. We are not letting this end with dropped charges. I began the process of filing a civil lawsuit this afternoon to hold accountable those responsible for these violations of our rights. I am not the first person in the area to have this happen to them, but I guarantee you by the time this is over I will be the last!

Arrest former JP, wife for murder of Kaufman DA's

Kaufman – Investigators arrested former Justice of the Peace Eric Williams for terroristic threat, a Class A misdemeanor, and set his bond at $1 million.

When his wife, Kim, confessed to being there when he pulled the trigger on Chief Prosecutor Mark Hasse in a courthouse parking lot, then two months later murdering the DA, Mike McLelland, and his wife, Cynthia, on Easter Sunday morning.

It all began when video surveillance caught the judge carrying a computer and monitor out of an office in the courthouse, later found on his office desk. His house was the subject of an all-day search in which officers seized guns and computers from his house and his in-laws' house. When Mr. Hasse prosecuted him for that crime, he wound up jobless.

When his wife confessed, according to an affidavit, she implicated herself and her husband in the shooting deaths of the DA and the prosecutor.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Forming military law in the global war of terror

The military courthouse at Ft. Hood where Maj. Hasan's trial is held
Terrorists' plan, to grind them down

Ft. Hood – Col. Tara Osborn has collar-length blonde hair and a face that could be seen in any midwestern Scandinavian community. Her affect is as no-nonsense as a sub-zero Minneapolis morning when it comes to separating military lawyers quarreling over flyspecks in the pepper.

She hails from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, appointed after the Army Court of Appeals dismissed the previous judge for his hard line stance on whether an accused mass murderer can stand trial with an unshaven face.

He can, said Judge Osborn, and she quickly ruled that military law precludes any possiblity of a plea bargain in favor of a life sentence to avoid execution.

In a particularly acrimonious dispute over one of the hundreds of motions filed in the case against the Army psychiatrist, Major Abu Nidal Malik Hasan, this one about an order to compel prosecutors to share audio recordings with defense lawyers, she gestured with a free hand and delivered the immortal, universal sentiment of the matron in charge, “It appeared to me from the motion that y'all weren't playing well together...”

The problem: A defense attorney had made the impassioned statement, “Anything the government has, we get!” He made reference to an issue of the Federal Rules of Criminal Evidence, “It's something you use to make a decision.”

Said the judge in the tone of voice she would likely use to settle a dispute between cross children arguing over a rubber dolly, a yellow lolly, or a little red wagon, “If you've got the transcript, the defense should have the transcript...I just want both sides to have access to the audio.” She finished in a sing-song, waving a hand airily in a gesture of dismissal, while she signed the order.

It's the kind of line that will render the macabre spectacle of a half-dozen beefy Army lawyers dressed in band box dress blues with gold stripes, badges, and buttons, made to appear small and vulnerable by the grinding reality of a judicial proceeding that has dragged on for three and a half years following a few minutes of unspeakable terror rendered on November 9, 2009.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is no longer the chubby and rotund person with round cheeks who stared out of television screens. He is now a gaunt, balding and pale invalid with a bushy black beard and a misshapen body paralyzed from the sternum down.

A police officer's bullet halted the rampage during which he murdered 13 persons – one of them a pregnant woman – and wounded 32 others, damaging his spinal cord so severely, he is confined to a wheelchair he can no longer propel, dependent on attendants who care for him in isolation in an intensive care ward of the Bell County Jail at Belton to change his colostomy bag and urine collection container. He stares out of a sallow face with no expression other than boredom, or, perhaps, the long-term shock of a life lived in isolation.

He's going downhill fast, according to knowledgeable observers. “Back in March,” said Christopher Haug, the III Corps Media Chief, “he was able to wheel himself. Now, he can't.” 

Mr. Haug said it's unknown if the Major is wearing a bullet-proof vest during his court appearances, but a bulky olive drab sweater shows above the collar of his standard issue camouflage fatigues. “He's unable to regulate his body temperature,” explains Mr. Haug.

He shrugs, smiling in a bemused manner. “If he wins, he loses,” he says. His implication is clear. To beat the death penalty is a hollow victory for one so injured. The battle he carries to the fight is won by every delay and pettifogging halt to the wheels of justice.

A female television journalist later offered the private opinion that “All this could have been over and done with if they would just let the regular courts handle it, but, no. They want to do it this way, and the families of the victims have to suffer through it.” She looks like she wants to cry, straining to hold back tears in a perfectly formed face, her pretty looks and startling eyes strained by the pain of it all.

All this is about is to make totally sure that there is no way an appeals court can overturn this case.” She looks as forlorn as she can be, even a little fearful. It gets rude in a war, and here is the evidence of it. Pretty women want to cry. Their faces show pain.

Later, a GI on escort duty – there seem to be dozens of them, both armed MP's and unarmed troopers attached to the public affairs office – says with a wry grin and a sidelong glance, “They should have wheeled this old boy in front of firing squad a long, long time ago, troop.” He winks.

Most men are merely sad. A GI in charge of security in the officer's club room set aside for journalists to view the proceedings on video says of the Soldier Readiness Center, where the attack took place. "They fenced all that in - years ago." Asked about the flower displays on the fence, he says, "All that's been there for years, now. Years."

Once the dispute over audio recordings is settled, the judge moves on to the weightier issue of witnesses, and how to compel them to testify.

Major Hasan's family members and fellow Islamic devotees from the Major's home near  the Washington, D.C., area are refusing to cooperate with the defense's summons.

Under the rules of criminal procedure, they are compelled to give interviews to prosecution attorneys before they appear to testify about the Major's state of mind, or his character in pre-sentencing proceedings. They want them subpoenaed, picked up U.S. Marshals, and transported to Ft. Hood by force, if necessary.

An exasperated chief prosecutor fairly shouted, in reference to a Mr. Abbas, one of the Major's key Islamic influences, “When we called Mr. Abbas, now, he doesn't speak English!” He explained that the FBI interviewed him 4 years ago and he spoke the nation's official language fluently at the time.

This is a witness that we called, he answered in English, and as soon as he realized who it was, he switched to another language and said he can't understand us!”

The list of those who so object is long, and according to lawyers for both sides, the reluctant witnesses are influenced by Major Hasan's brother, an attorney who has instructed them they don't want to talk to government lawyers.

It's a matriarchal society, and when they answer the phone, they answer in English, then hang up when they realize who's on the line.”

The debate became so strenuous at that point that the judge gestured for calm, saying “I only want to see one of you standing at a time...” She said their antics of bounding to their feet in strenuous group objections reminds her of “this merry-go-round.” It's a dialogue, she explained. “I talk to you; you talk to me.”

Maybe you'd better re-do your synopsis,” she suggested to the lead defense counsel. Of 59 defense witnesses, prosecutors have questioned the merits of 45, and moved for the exclusion of 25 pre-sentencing witnesses the defense wishes to call to testify about the Major's character – chiefly because they can't fathom what they will say once they are on the witness stand.

The judge gave defense attorneys a week from Tuesday to prepare synopses as to the nature of the expected witness testimony. A further hearing will take place on May 9 before jury selection begins on May 29.

It's all about a state of mind, according to the defense strategy, that of a “persecuted” adherent to the Islamic faith.

The judge partially denied and partly ordered a motion to suppress evidence offered by a terrorism expert named Evan Kohlmann, who produced a motion picture titled “The Al Qaida Plan” for the Office of Military Commissions.

A lawyer trained at the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown, he will be allowed to testify as to the definition of certain Arabic words and phrases – though he doesn't speak or read a word of Arabic - but not the state of mind of the Major.

Defense attorneys failed to prove his status as an expert in that area. He will be allowed to testify as to what Major Hasan meant when he corresponded in e-mails with the Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who taught he and three of the operatives who carried out the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers. But he won't be allowed to testify as to his state of mind. He will also be allowed to say what Maj. Hasan meant when he shouted "Allahu Akbar," that God is great, but now why, exactly, he shouted those words. 

Both al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, and his 16-year-old son were killed in drone rocket attacks in Yemen this past fall.

Mr. Kohlmann has similarly testified in nearly a dozen federal cases of terrorism, including the attacks on the U.S.S. Cole and the attacks on U.S. Embassies by terrorists recruited and trained by Al Qaida.

He wrote a book on the subject, and one may view his motion picture by clicking on the panel below.

The feature-length YouTube presentation includes much information produced by Al Qaida and used to recruit and train their operatives, along with subtitles in English.

That part of the presentation begins after at the 11-minute mark, following an affidavit as to Mr. Kohlmann's bona fides and qualifications.

He is an expert on the fact that Islamic terrorists have turned the entire globe into a battle zone, the interior territory of the United States of America thus rendered a place of war.

Terrorist acts of war are to be handled by military tribunals, and not courts of law.

In a final note, Judge Tara Osborn ruled against a defense motion to suppress the evidence of the final words of pregnant female soldier cut down by one of Maj. Hasan's bullets.

The woman screamed, “My baby!” as the 5.7 x 28 millimeter round sliced into her flesh, ending her life and the life of her unborn child.

- The Legendary