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Friday, 10 July 2015

Cop Decapitates Army Vet With Cruiser on the Way to a Call, Doesn’t Render Aid, Speeds Off

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Tampa, FL — Bill McIntyre was a hard-working retired Army veteran who built fences for living. Because of the negligent actions of a Tampa cop, this 60-year-old man is now dead. He left behind his wife, three sons, a daughter, and two grandchildren.

On the night of June 28, McIntire was on his way home when a Florida detective was on his way to a call of about a robbery. On the way to the call, the officer struck McIntire, decapitating him, and then sped off. He never stopped to help nor did he report striking anything with his cruiser.

Witnesses described a vehicle looking like a GMC Yukon or a Chevrolet Tahoe speeding away from the scene without stopping to offer aid or call the authorities.

On Thursday, 11 days after one of their own mowed down this beloved father, the Tampa Bay police quietly called the family and told them that it was a police officer who killed McIntire.

McIntire’s son Bradley, 30, told the Tampa Bay Times that police matched the blood found on one of their vehicles to his father. Police told Bradley that the officer “didn’t realize he hit anything.”

Try to imagine hitting a large insect with your vehicle, or a squirrel, or a small deer; all of these things would be felt by the driver. Then, try imagining hitting a 200-pound man, hard enough to remove his head from his body. Think about how difficult it would be to somehow not realize you hit him

I want to make sure I’m getting accurate information. I want to make sure nothing is being left out,” McIntire said.

“If it was me, if I hit a cop and took off what would happen to me?” he added. “How different is the justice system going to work for the officer involved than it does for me?”

In what appeared to be an attempt to cover the hit and run up, the Tampa PD initially declined to comment on the investigation, saying only that they were “no longer looking for the vehicle involved.” However, after the Tampa Bay Times published an interview with Bradley McIntire, they acknowledged that the officer involved was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

“This is absolutely being handled differently than a traditional hit and run because an officer’s vehicle was involved,” Tampa police spokesperson Andrea Davis said. “It’s being handled very critically. The state attorney’s office is already involved. The chief, all the way down, has been reviewing this case and had their hands involved in the investigation.”

“I can’t help but wonder if everything I’m being told is the complete truth,” he said. “The cops are trying to tell me it was an honest mistake. I drive past the scene every day. When I see it, I see nothing but lights.”

New SWAT Documents Give Snapshot of Ugly Militarization of U.S. Police

Featured photo - New SWAT Documents Give Snapshot of Ugly Militarization of U.S. Police

Extensive records from SWAT team raids in northeastern Massachusetts released today by the American Civil Liberties Union corroborate what police reform advocates have long insisted: that “Special Weapons And Tactics” units spend a majority of their time responding to low-risk situations that do not require SWAT’s quasi-military approach.

The documents include after-action reports from 79 SWAT operations between August 2012 and June 2014 by the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, or NEMLEC, a consortium of police departments covering 925 square miles in Middlesex and Essex Counties outside Boston. According to NEMLEC, its SWAT team exists to respond to “critical incidents,” mainly “active shooters, armed barricaded subjects, hostage takers, and terrorists.”

However, an examination of the records by the The Intercept demonstrates that such critical incidents are few and far between in Northeast Massachusetts. Nonetheless, SWAT teams frequently roll out in “NEMLEC Communities,” carried in BearCat armored response vehicles and armed with flash-bang grenades.

Just one of the 79 SWAT deployments in 2012-14 — assistance with the search for the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing — involved terrorism. Other SWAT actions during that period show no hostage situations, no active shooters and only 10 non-suicidal barricaded subjects.

About half of the remaining cases involved everyday and often mundane police activity, including executing warrants, dealing with expected rioting after a 2013 Red Sox World Series game, and providing security for a Dalai Lama lecture. In one mission, 15 SWAT team members roved through Salem’s Halloween celebrations looking out for unspecified “gang-related activity,” but were warned by their commanders to maintain a “professional demeanor” given that “everyone has a camera phone and you don’t want to be on YouTube or the news later.”

The remaining 37 SWAT actions were either proactive drug operations, initiated by local police, or suicide response operations.

Pete Kraska, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University who has spent his career studying the militarization of police, argues that the use of SWAT units in drug operations unnecessarily exposes poor communities to paramilitary forces.

“It is really significant to remember that SWAT teams prior to the 1980s drug war were confined strictly to reactive, dangerous situations,” Kraska told The Intercept. “But in our research today we find that over 80 percent of the time police departments are using SWAT teams for proactive cases. These deployments are generally targeted at low-level drug dealers … and usually they’re just doing it for collecting evidence — not necessarily to even arrest a well-known, armed, dangerous drug dealer.”

Indeed, of the 21 SWAT narcotics warrant operations detailed in the documents, only five of them even mention recovering drugs. And the largest of these finds was five ounces of cocaine and 61 grams of heroin — hardly the stash of the next Sinaloa Cartel.

And despite the pettiness of their operations, the NEMLEC SWAT teams’ forceful tactics would make one think they were on the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

More than half of the SWAT teams’ drug operations were initiated at 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. Furthermore, of the 22 narcotics operations detailed in the documents over the two years, 14 included warrants authorizing SWAT teams to conduct “no knock” raids and four authorizing “knock and announce” raids — both of which are forceful entry options that have made national headlines for the accidental killings, injuries, and trauma they can produce.

In one February 2013 operation, 18 SWAT team members descended on a residence thought to be a site of illegal drug activity in Lowell, Massachusetts. In conjunction with local police, the unit conducted a no-knock raid despite pre-raid intelligence showing the possible presence of a child. Finding a woman who “appeared to be preparing illegal drugs for use intravenously,” the unit arrested all five adults in the residence for unspecified drug charges.

The team also found not one child but three, escorted them out of the house, sent them to the hospital, and filed a child abuse and neglect report with the Department of Children and Families. The only “events/items of note” in the case report summary are the five arrests and unspecified amounts of narcotics and cash.

Tom Nolan, an associate professor of criminology at Merrimack College and a former Boston Police Department lieutenant, similarly believes that SWAT units’ focus on areas like suicide response are a waste of limited public resources and can make fraught situations worse.

“I was a Boston police officer and was on some of the first SWAT deployments in the 70s. Those were only for armed barricaded subjects in buildings, the reason we were deployed were for hostage situations or threats to harm others,” Nolan said. “That’s why they were established. What we’re beginning to see is that in small towns like where NEMLEC has jurisdiction, their officers want to be on SWAT teams, so they’re looking for any justifiable way to get on.”

“It’s certainly counter-productive to have a fully-armed militarized SWAT team respond to potentially suicidal suspects who are looking for ways out like suicide-by-cop situations,” contended Nolan. “I don’t know why you couldn’t just have someone respond who knows negotiation strategy techniques, without the tanks and the body armor.”

Some of the NEMLEC documents illustrate this problem. In one August 2012 SWAT operation, team members came to the home of a man who had told his father that he wanted police to kill him and barricaded himself in his bedroom. And with the arrival of 18 SWAT officers, referred to as “operators” in the reports, he almost got his wish. Fearing that he had hung himself, they broke into his room — and finding him instead “holding two large knives and hiding behind the headboard of the bedframe,” they immediately tased him, hitting him in the chest twice. The man then jumped out his glass window, lunging at outside SWAT team members with his knife. An operator then subdued him as he attempted to cut himself, covering several operators with blood.

In both the drug raids and operations dealing with potential suicides, the actions involved a startlingly large number of officers:

NEMLEC’s non-drug or suicide SWAT actions often show similar apparent overkill. “There’s certainly a need for SWAT teams to accompany officers if it has been proven that there are verified armed suspects,” said Nolan. “But far too often officers come in with SWAT teams on a hunch or what-if feeling that there are weapons present.”

Document Shows CIA Reaction to Finding No WMD in Iraq

Source: David Swanson, teleSUR

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The National Security Archive has posted several newly available documents, one of them an account by Charles Duelfer of the search he led in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, with a staff of 1,700 and the resources of the U.S. military.

Duelfer was appointed by CIA Director George Tenet to lead a massive search after an earlier massive search led by David Kay had determined that there were no WMD stockpiles in Iraq. Duelfer went to work in January 2004, to find nothing for a second time, on behalf of people who had launched a war knowing full well that their own statements about WMDs were not true.

The fact that Duelfer states quite clearly that he found none of the alleged WMD stockpiles cannot be repeated enough, with 42% of Americans (and 51 percent of Republicans) still believing the opposite.

A New York Times story last October about the remnants of a long-abandoned chemical weapons program has been misused and abused to advance misunderstanding. A search of Iraq today would find U.S. cluster bombs that were dropped a decade back, without of course finding evidence of a current operation.

Duelfer is also clear that Saddam Hussein’s government had accurately denied having WMD, contrary to a popular U.S. myth that Hussein had pretended to have what he did not.

The fact that President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their team knowingly lied cannot be overemphasized. This group took the testimony of Hussein Kamel regarding weapons he’d said had been destroyed years ago, and used it as if he’d said they currently existed. This team used forged documents to allege a uranium purchase. They used claims about aluminum tubes that had been rejected by all of their own usual experts. They “summarized” a National Intelligence Estimate that said Iraq was unlikely to attack unless attacked to say nearly the opposite in a “white paper” released to the public. Colin Powell took claims to the U.N. that had been rejected by his own staff, and touched them up with fabricated dialogue.

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller concluded that, “In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even nonexistent.”

On January 31, 2003, Bush suggested to Blair that they could paint an airplane with U.N. colors, fly it low to get it shot at, and thereby start the war. Then the two of them walked out to a press conference at which they said they would avoid war if at all possible. Troop deployments and bombing missions were already underway.

When Diane Sawyer asked Bush on television why he had made the claims he had about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, he replied: “What’s the difference? The possibility that [Saddam] could acquire weapons, if he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger.”

Duelfer’s newly released internal report on his hunt, and that of Kay before him, for the figments of propagandists’ imagination refers to “Saddam Hussein’s WMD program,” which Duelfer treats as an on-again, off-again institution, as if the 2003 invasion had just caught it in one of its naturally cyclical low tides of non-existence. Duelfer also describes the nonexistent program as “an international security problem that vexed the world for three decades,” — except perhaps for the part of the world engaged in the largest public demonstrations in history, which rejected the U.S. case for war.

Duelfer openly states that his goal was to rebuild “confidence in intelligence projections of threat.” Of course, having found no WMDs, he can’t alter the inaccuracy of the “projections of threat.” Or can he? What Duelfer did publicly at the time and does again here is to claim, without providing any evidence for it, that “Saddam was directing resources to sustain the capacity to recommence producing WMD once U.N. sanctions and international scrutiny collapsed.”

Duelfer claims that former Saddam yes men, rigorously conditioned to say whatever would most please their questioner, had assured him that Saddam harbored these secret intentions to start rebuilding WMD someday. But, Duelfer admits, “there is no documentation of this objective. And analysts should not expect to find any.”

So, in Duelfer’s rehabilitation of the “intelligence community” that may soon be trying to sell you another “projection of threat” (a phrase that perfectly fits what a Freudian would say they were doing), the U.S. government invaded Iraq, devastated a society, killed upwards of a million people by best estimates, wounded, traumatized, and made homeless millions more, generated hatred for the United States, drained the U.S. economy, stripped away civil liberties back home, and laid the groundwork for the creation of ISIS, as a matter not of “preempting” an “imminent threat” but of preempting a secret plan to possibly begin constructing a future threat should circumstances totally change.

This conception of “preemptive defense” is identical to two other concepts. It’s identical to the justifications we’ve been offered recently for drone strikes. And it’s identical to aggression. Once “defense” has been stretched to include defense against theoretical future threats, it ceases to credibly distinguish itself from aggression. And yet Duelfer seems to believe he succeeded in his assignment.

For The First Time Since It Was Mexico, California Now Has More Latinos Than Whites

Two weeks ago, we highlighted a statistic that reflects the rapid demographic shift taking place in America. Non-Hispanic whites, Bloomberg reported, citing the Census Bureau, are no longer the majority in Americans under 5 years old.

Why does this matter or, perhaps more to the point, why do we mention it here? Because demographic shifts often have far-reaching consequences for the economy. Here’s what we said last month:

Shifting demographics are affecting everything from the labor market, to homeownership, to race relations in America. 

In “The ‘Illegal Immigrant’ Recovery” for instance, we documented the stunning fact that the US has added 2.3 million “foreign-born” workers, offset by just 727K “native-born” since December 2007. Because the “foreign-born” category includes both legal and illegal immigrants, it may well be that the surprise answer why America’s labor productivity has plummeted in recent years and certainly months, and why wage growth has gone precisely nowhere, is because the vast majority of all jobs since December 2007, or 75% to be specific, have gone to foreign-born workers. 

As for the housing market, we recently cited data from the Urban Institute which shows that because the vast majority of new households in the next decade will be formed by minorities, and because minority groups tend to have lower homeownership rates, the overall homeownership rate in America — which has already retraced twenty years’ worth of gains — will likely slide further in the coming years.

These are but two examples of how much demographic shifts matter. Against this backdrop we present the following chart and brief commentary from the LA Times with no further comment:

 

The shift shouldn’t come as a surprise. State demographers had previously expected the change to occur sometime in 2013, but slow population growth pushed back projections. In January 2014, the state Department of Finance estimated the shift would take place at some point in March.

Either way, the moment has officially arrived.

“This is sort of the official statistical recognition of something that has been underway for almost an entire generation,” said Roberto Suro, director of the Tom├ís Rivera Policy Institute at USC.

California is now the first large state and the third overall — after Hawaii and New Mexico — without a white plurality, according to state officials.

“Where L.A. goes is where the rest of the state goes and where the rest of the country goes,” he said. “We announce, demographically speaking, the future for the rest of the country.”