Archive for August 21st, 2006

Call the police

When I find myself in agreement with George Will, my initial reaction is to check my position to see if I’ve shifted too far to the right.

Today in the Washington Post, I see Will has come to my position. Too fucking late for the good of the country and the world, George, but welcome to reality.

(Sorry. I told myself when I began I’d remember “I fucking told you so” is not a position to win elections although it’s a great conversation starter for Sunday school class.)

After the Sept. 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, I thought the U.S. should have responded as if the nation was going after a gang of murderous thugs. Afghanistan could either take the suspected ring leaders like Osama bin Laden into custody and extradite them or Afghanistan would be treated as a belligerent nation.

But I essentially saw it as a law enforcement issue. For two main reasons.

1. We weren’t dealing with a nation attacking us.

2. The culprits were criminals. Treating them differently than murder conspirators merely elevated them.

Certainly the military would be used to get Osama bin Laden just as SWAT is used to break down doors when needed on a raid. Division sized SWAT units if necessary with B-52s, but the role would essentially be the same and once the battlefield was cleared you’d send in the FBI for intelligence and evidence gathering.

It is not dissimilar from how the U.S. operated after the first World Trade Center bombing. And guess where the culprits are? In prison.

Where is Osama bin Laden? Forgotten by President George W. Bush, who notoriously once said he didn’t care where bin Laden is and didn’t think about him much.

So much for bringing the perpetrators to justice, as Bush once told the American people would happen.

Remember how united the world was behind us after Sept. 11th? Syria gave us good intelligence. Iranians lit candles. Europeans surrounded our embassies to symbolically form protective walls with their bodies.

Imagine if bin Laden and his crew had been taken into custody and led on a perp walk into court? Justice. Law. Truth. Honor. Decency. Civilization. These words would still mean something when used to describe the United States.

From WaPo:

The London plot against civil aviation confirmed a theme of an illuminating new book, Lawrence Wright’s “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.” The theme is that better law enforcement, which probably could have prevented Sept. 11, is central to combating terrorism. F-16s are not useful tools against terrorism that issues from places such as Hamburg (where Mohamed Atta lived before dying in the North Tower of the World Trade Center) and High Wycombe, England.

Cooperation between Pakistani and British law enforcement (the British draw upon useful experience combating IRA terrorism) has validated John Kerry’s belief (as paraphrased by the New York Times Magazine of Oct. 10, 2004) that “many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror.” In a candidates’ debate in South Carolina (Jan. 29, 2004), Kerry said that although the war on terror will be “occasionally military,” it is “primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world.”

Immediately after the London plot was disrupted, a “senior administration official,” insisting on anonymity for his or her splenetic words, denied the obvious, that Kerry had a point. The official told The Weekly Standard:

“The idea that the jihadists would all be peaceful, warm, lovable, God-fearing people if it weren’t for U.S. policies strikes me as not a valid idea. [Democrats] do not have the understanding or the commitment to take on these forces. It’s like John Kerry. The law enforcement approach doesn’t work.”

This farrago of caricature and non sequitur makes the administration seem eager to repel all but the delusional. But perhaps such rhetoric reflects the intellectual contortions required to sustain the illusion that the war in Iraq is central to the war on terrorism, and that the war, unlike “the law enforcement approach,” does “work.”

Too bad only those of us in the blogosphere, blogtopia, military professionals and countterrorism experts saw that while conservatives like Will criticized our stance.

Dorothy Allison’s composite

This will probably be the only post I ever do on Jon Bonet Ramsey’s murder. Suspense novelist Michael Prescott points out on his blog how psychic Dorothy Allison’s composite sketch of the girl’s killer has a remarkable resemblance to the current suspect.

I point this out only because I met the late Dorothy Allison on two occasions and spoke to her by phone several other times. I found her to be sincere although not very accurate. However, I know of at least two police detectives who held her abilities in high regard after consulting her about their cases. Neither of them would be considered to be “believers” in the supernatural. But she had them convinced.

However, I’d also point out that in my many years of experience, this is one of the very few times where an artist’s rendition of a suspect actually looks like the suspect.

Are ghosts created by low frequency sounds?

Via Daily Grail, comes this article on Metareligion, Ghosts created by low frequency sounds

Our story begins at a medical manufacturing facility in the midlands of Great Britain. Vic Tandy, an engineer from Coventry University, was doing research in a laboratory at the company. Tandy is an expert in computer-assisted learning (and coincidentally, if I’m not mistaken, I think the “Vic Tandy” might have been an old TRS-80 model they used to sell at Radio Shack). Workers at the lab told Tandy that the building was haunted, but being a reasoning man of science, he didn’t believe them. At least, not at first.

Late one night, when Tandy was burning the midnight oil all alone at the laboratory, he had a face-to-face encounter with the unexplained. As he sat at his desk working in the silent, desolate building, a gnawing unease began to overtake him. Although he couldn’t put his finger on anything out of the ordinary, something was not right.

“I was sweating but cold and the feeling of depression was noticeable — but there was also something else. It was as though something was in the room with me,” Tandy said. “Then I became aware that I was being watched, and a figure slowly emerged to my left. It was indistinct and on the periphery of my vision, but it moved just as I would expect a person to. It was gray, and made no sound. The hair was standing up on the back of my neck — I was terrified.”

Tandy steeled himself and turned to face the ghostly shape dead-on, but he said it immediately faded and completely disappeared. Concerned that his mind must be playing tricks on him, Tandy packed up and went home. But in the great tradition of haunted house encounters, he didn’t flee from the ghost-ridden building and swear never to return — no sir, he came right back for more. And he got it.

Entire article well worth the click on the link.

Black history celebrated; Klan shows up

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is best known for the raid by abolistionist John Brown on the federal armory.

But Harpers Ferry also played a prominent role in African American history outside of the Civil War.

Storer College was set up to educate the recently freed slaves after the Civil War. And 100 years ago this month, the Niagara Movement held its meeting there, an event commerated with events this weekend at by Harpers Ferry.

Here’s information about the history :

At the dawn of the twentieth century, the outlook for full civil rights for African Americans was at a precarious crossroads. Failed Reconstruction, the Supreme Court’s separate but equal doctrine (Plessy v. Ferguson), coupled with Booker T. Washington’s accommodationist policies threatened to compromise any hope for full and equal rights under the law.

Harvard educated William Edward Burghardt Du Bois committed himself to a bolder course, moving well beyond the calculated appeal for limited civil rights. He acted in 1905 by drafting a “Call” to a few select people. The Call had two purposes; “organized determination and aggressive action on the part of men who believed in Negro freedom and growth,” and opposition to “present methods of strangling honest criticism.”

Du Bois gathered a group of men representing every region of the country except the West. They hoped to meet in Buffalo, New York. When refused accommodation, the members migrated across the border to Canada. Twenty-nine men met at the Erie Beach Hotel in Ontario. The Niagarites adopted a constitution and by-laws, established committees, and wrote the “Declaration of Principles” outlining the future for African Americans. After three days, they returned across the border with a renewed sense of resolve in the struggle for freedom and equality.

Thirteen months later, from August 15-19, 1906, the Niagara Movement held its first public meeting in the United States on the campus of Storer College in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Harpers Ferry was symbolic for a number of reasons. First and foremost was the connection to John Brown. It was at Harpers Ferry in 1859 that Brown’s raid against slavery struck a blow for freedom. Many felt it was John Brown who fired the first shot of the Civil War. By the latter part of the nineteenth century, John Brown’s Fort had become a shrine and a symbol of freedom to African Americans, Union soldiers, and the nation’s Abolitionists.

Harpers Ferry was also the home of Storer College. Freewill Baptists opened Storer in 1867 as a mission school to educate former slaves. For twenty-five years Storer was the only school in West Virginia that offered African Americans an education beyond the primary level.

Here’s the main story on this weekend’s events from our local newspaper, The Martinsburg Journal:

HARPERS FERRY — Picking up a colored ink marker, the 5-year-old girl from Philadelphia, Pa., wanted to make a statement rather than simply write a word.

But she needed a little help.

She turned to her mother.

“I think you should love each other,” Ebony Jade asked her mother to help her write on the small, smooth wooden block. A block which would be glued on to The Freedom House located at the J.R. Clifford Youth Discovery Tent.

Here’s a sidebar on one of the panels:

HARPERS FERRY — The Rev. Walter Fauntroy steadily fanned Juanita Abernathy as she spoke of little-known efforts by women that pre-dated the well-known history of the civil rights movement.

Abernathy said the scene during a panel discussion that was part of the Niagara Movement Centennial Commemoration in Harpers Ferry Saturday played out differently than it would have in the heyday of the civil rights movement.

Back then, black men spoke out for freedom, and the women served up the refreshments, Abernathy said.

The audience twittered with surprise when Abernathy told them local black women were negotiating with bus drivers well before Rosa Park’s defiance sparked the Montgomery bus boycott.

She continued later, “We opened doors, and we marched 381 days. There were women who had been pressing for civil rights before Martin Luther King came along. That was a time when a meeting started and the women were told to get the cookies or pour the coffee. It was a man’s world.”

Turning to more modern day concerns, Abernathy blasted religious leaders for leading voters astray during the last national election to the applause of the audience gathered on the campus of Storer College.

And here’s a story on who else showed up:

HARPERS FERRY — The audience barely missed a beat when about 20 members of the Ku Klux Klan showed up at the beginning of a Niagara Movement Centennial Commemoration event in Harpers Ferry Saturday afternoon.

Children, who were among the nearly 2,000 people of various races waiting to hear a panel discussion on racial issues, gawked in confusion. Most apparently knew little about the group.

“Could they bomb us here, mama,” asked one boy.

“Yes,” was the answer, and the boy looked mystified.

The adults, who remembered when the KKK wore white robes and hoods and terrorized blacks and others, seemed to stiffen as the black-clad group took their seats to the rear of the tent. Klan members were wearing an alternate uniform Saturday, consisting primarily of black clothing and Nazi regalia.

Another boy sized up the black jeans, T-shirts and red emblems the men, women and teenagers wore.

“Aw, we could take them, couldn’t we,” he said.

The crowd laughed and turned their attention to the stage as six black barrier breakers shared stories of overcoming racism and offered words of advice.


Panelists included the Rev. Walter Fauntroy, the first District of Columbia delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives; Monte Irvin, a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame who was among the earliest black players in Major League Baseball; Eddie Henderson, the first black to compete in the National Figure Skating Championships; Cheryl White, the first black female professional jockey and Joseph Wilder, a musician who helped to integrate Broadway.

The KKK members left the panel discussion after Juanita Abernathy, widow of civil rights leader the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, spoke to the audience about the importance of education and responsible voting.

Their exit, under escort by several federal police officers as was their entrance, went unnoticed by most of the audience.

In all seriousness, the 20 probably represented their entire numbers. And my guess is nearly all of them came from Maryland, where they occasionally hold marches and cross burnings in Washington and Frederick counties.

The Rev. Otis James, who I’ve met and walked with during an MLK Jr. Day event, summed it up well:

“This is America, and this is an open event for this town, this state and the nation at large,” said the Rev. Otis C. James of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Charles Town following the panel discussion.” They have a right to come here as long as they are peaceful and non-destructive. I hope — I pray — that they leave having learned something from this discussion.”

But truthfully,” he added. “I don’t think they learned anything from what took place today, or enlarged their insight on humanity.”

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