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NEW YORK - An employee of the National Children's Museum in Washington has been arrested on child pornography charges.
Robert Singer is accused of using his work computer to send explicit images to others including an undercover New York City detective.
Prosecutors say Singer was arrested today at his northern Virginia home on charges that he sent the pornographic images to a detective posing as a 33-year-old mother and her 12-year-old daughter. The complaint says Singer sent the detective about 80 explicit images of child pornography from his work and home computers.
Singer was identified in the criminal complaint as a spokesman for the Children's Museum, which closed in September 2004 to prepare for renovations. A statement from the museum says officials are "horrified" by the events.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
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Georgia's sex offender law could change.
That's if some state lawmakers and sheriffs get their way.
Under the current law, registered sex offenders must follow strict restrictions on where they can live work and travel.
Central Georgia sheriffs like Terry Deese of Peach County say the law doesn't distinguish between dangerous sexual predators and other sexual offenders.
He says that makes it difficult for his department, and others, to track them.
"The sheriff's association is working with the Governor's Office and the legislature on getting this law where it'll be a little easier for us to enforce and still accomplish what needs to be accomplished," said Deese. "And that's being able to track sex offenders."
State Representative Tony Sellier says a system that ranks offenders based on the severity of their crime would work better for Georgia.
"There's got to be a clarification of that, as we look at the laws, the sexual predator laws, in the state," said Sellier. "If we make it so impossible, we either drive (sex offenders) underground... or make it so difficult for the police and school districts to set up protective areas for our children."
Both say they expect the sexual offender law will be a hot topic at next year's legislative session.
Since the law went into effect in July 2006, the number of people on the sexual offender registry has increased by more than forty percent.
Sent via email from a friend.
I have been pondering this thought for a while, if it has been discussed before, I apologize for taking up your time.
With respect to the residency restriction issues that are affecting many sex offenders and their families as of late, undoubtedly with more to come, let me ask these questions of those who have structured these laws and those who promote them.
Under the rally cry of these people "To protect just one child, it is worth it", (or something to that effect).
What gives you the right to disregard the safety of the children of the sex offender?
You spew from one side of your mouth words such as, "that by distancing sex offenders from the general populous we are protecting the children", but what of the families, children included, of the sex offenders?
From the other side of your mouth you will reason, and say, what? That they don't have to move with him?
Do the children have a choice? Is it not preferable, and necessary for these families, to remain viable, to stay together?
You seem to have no compunction about possibly placing these children in the way of an exponential multiple of more potential danger. Just by their forced relocation to live among a higher concentration of sex offenders within a localized proximity than they would have normally been exposed to prior to these restrictions their danger is
What do you tell these children?
That they are worthless, and undeserving of equal protection under the law, just because they are the offspring of a sex offender?
But, your answer would be, what? If you do the crime, you do the time? Tough luck?
How can you profess one thing, and allow yourself to create a worse situation for these children? By your own reasoning for these restrictions, more distance between sex offenders and children.
Not the other way around, much less, more sex offenders in closer proximity.
How hypocritical of you all, for turning a blind eye.
This just goes to show its not about the children, its about the votes!
Otherwise, I will say, you all believe you are God like, and have the right to pick and choose who's rights you will protect, and who's you will ignore!
Does it make you feel any better that the appearance is that the families of sex offenders are cheap trash, inconsequential chattel, in your fight to protect the children?
What if it were your family? The first thing you would be screaming is that your constitutional rights are being violated!
What of ours? Do they not deserve the same protections that you are affording others with these laws?
You are representatives of ALL the people!
Sex offenders and their families included.
Stop the madness and the double speak. Get Smart about how you deal with this, and protect all of us and our rights!
Allow us the same rights you allow other offenders, give us our right to reasonable classifications to distinguish the repeat offenders, from those who have reformed and obeyed the laws for years, and jumped through your hoops.
Stop pushing the carrot further out, as has been done time and time again! A deal is a deal! If you said registration was for 10 years, what gives you the right to change that at the 11th hour?
You are oppressing a group of the people of this land under the guise of "regulatory" laws.
Fix the registry to reflect its original intent and allow those who are of no danger to get on with their lives, and to continue to try and better themselves.
Stop hurting our children with these feel good laws, as they suffer tremendously from the association of being the child of a registered sex offender.
You would not want these things visited on your children, nor do I want them on mine.
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We Americans are used to having the right to live wherever we want. If you can afford to live in a community or neighborhood, welcome to the block.
That is unless you’re a sex offender. And with a proliferation of laws, whole cities are becoming off limits to offenders on sex offender lists.
Most of the laws specify that registered offenders not live within a set distance from a school or a park where children congregate. In the case of California, it’s 2,000 feet. California law also specifies that when paroled, you have to live in the county of your last legal residence.
Say your last legal residence was San Francisco. Too bad — no homes in the city are farther than 2,000 feet from a park or school. Parolees are getting around it by saying they are homeless, so they have no “address.” And, police say, that makes them harder to track, and not easier.
In one Midwest city, paroled offenders were living in ratty motels on the outside of the town, because they couldn’t find housing outside the prescribed distance.
Michigan is part of the typical 1,000-foot rule, where offenders can’t live, work or loiter within 1,000 feet of the “student safety zone” around school property.
Which is troubling, because those on the sex registry are anything but “one size fits all.”
All of these laws revolves around a single concept — keeping children safe from predatory sex offenders, which is a laudable goal.
The problem is, thousands of parolees in the state are not offenders who were involved with children. And there’s nothing to suggest they will now that they are on the “outside.”
There are dozens of sex offenders on the state’s offender list in this area — 30 in Petoskey, 26 in East Jordan, 27 in Charlevoix, five in Pellston, nine in Harbor Springs, a surprising 23 in Alanson and 14 in Boyne City. I know some of them, and trust me, you know someone on the list as well. We don’t think of them as recidivist, and they continue to contribute to the community. How long do we punish them after they leave prison?
A prime example of being totally over the top is Rep. Fran Amos, R-Waterford, who introduced a House bill that would prohibit parolees from answering the door, handing out candy, turning on outside lights or doing anything else that would indicate the house was occupied on Halloween.
What she really wanted to do, she told Detroit Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson, was round up all offenders and stick they in a gym somewhere until Halloween was over. She said that would have been too costly.
Talk about fright night, this rep is downright scary. Why not just shoot ’em and be done with it — an idea I’m sure she’d float if she thought her legislative colleagues would go along with it.
There are three concerns I see with these approaches and laws.
One, when did we as a society stop adhering to the idea that if you do the crime, you do the time — and when you’re out, your debt to society is fulfilled. If you’re a sex offender, your debt to society never ends — at least for 25 years on the registry.
And when is the state going to give a better explanation on what the crime was? Date rape? Violent sex assault? What did these folks do?
And when are we going to change the laws that have 16-year-olds on the register for having consensual sex with their 15-year-old boyfriend or girlfriend? Do we really want to criminalize sex between two consenting teens when that criminalization puts their name on a sex registry for 25 years, ruining their life? Frankly, I don’t.
Certainly keep watch on the worst and the most predatory, but let’s not become an intolerant, hostile nation to those who aren’t.
These people need to be getting some major help behind bars. And not all sex offenders are pedophiles or child molesters, and not all are insane like these people. These are the people the registries were made for, not 100% of sex offenders, when only about 10% or less are like the below mentioned. Yet all 100% are being treated like these people, which is wrong any way you look at it. The 1st guy is a psychopath who needs to be in prison, he talks like he's possessed or something. Most people who are dangerous like these, have low IQ's, or from what I've read, like John Couey, who demanded treatment over and over and nobody gave him the treatment him requested, why?
100% of sex offenders are being punished and tortured over and over because of a few insane idiots like these people, who some could've been prevented, like John Couey, if they would've got him the help he begged for. Yet they did not, so who's fault is that?
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Michigan's sex offender registry isn't a complete list of dangerous predators.
Offenders convicted before 1995 aren't required to register.
Rep. David Law, RCommerce Township, wants to change that.
He said sex crimes against minors left an imprint on him during his time working in the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office.
Law's bill would require some individuals convicted on or before Oct. 1, 1995 to register. It would cover offenders who were age 17 or older when they sexually assaulted a child younger than 13.
"This bill is not about further punishing sex offenders - this is a matter of public safety," Law said. "The recidivism statistics of the most heinous sex offenders pose a significant threat to public safety and our children."
According to the Michigan State Police, the intent of the registry is "to better assist the public in preventing and protecting against the commission of future criminal sexual acts by convicted sex offenders."
Offenders are required to register if they reside, work or live in the state and have been convicted of specific sex crimes. The registry is a public record and includes the individual's name, photo, crime, physical description, last known address and aliases.
But not everyone sees the proposal as an efficient way to make the public and children safer.
Elizabeth Arnovits, executive director of the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency, said the bill draws attention to an emotional issue but the registry isn't an effective policy. She said that laws such as sex offender reporting may make people feel more secure when, in reality, they accomplish little and make people less vigilant because they're lulled into a false sense of security.
"These laws are not making people safer," Arnovits said. "These things don't protect anybody."
Arnovits predicted the proposal would pass.
"It is an emotional and political issue," she said. "It will pass in a flash."
Patricia Caruso, director of the Department of Corrections, said the recidivism rates for sex offenders are extremely low, but because sexual assault is such an emotional issue, the facts are often ignored.
According to Caruso, laws that require offenders to stay a minimum distance from playgrounds and other areas with children are "meaningless and ineffective" because less than 1 percent of sex crimes against minors are committed by strangers.
She said most offenders are close friends or relatives of the victim.
Law said he's not very concerned about the rights of sex offenders because they "didn't have any regard for the rights of the victim when they molested them."
He also said the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld retroactive use of such registries.
"As access to children gets easier due to emerging technology, we have to fight harder to protect our kids," Law said.
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LINCOLN - Lincoln police have identified the man whose body was found in an apartment this weekend.
Police say 44-year-old Andrea Williams died of a stab wound. His body was found Saturday morning inside the apartment after police were called there.
No arrests have been made, and police have yet to rule it a homicide. They instead are calling his death suspicious.
Police say Williams was registered as sex offender and had recent run-ins with police.
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I have no sympathy for this idiot. He is why 100% of sex offenders are being punished, because of him and others like him.
SAN FRANCISCO - Officers arrested a registered sex offender near Fisherman’s Wharf on Saturday evening after discovering him with a missing 15-year-old Sacramento girl, according to San Francisco police.
Sacramento police reported the girl missing Thursday, and her picture appeared on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Web site.
But it was the teenager’s uncle whose hard work led to her recovery. He spent Saturday putting up flyers throughout The City, and the next day someone recognized the girl from the picture and called police.
Officers picked her up at about 5:30 p.m. near Beach and Jones streets, according to police Sgt. Neville Gittens. Officers arrested Butler at the same time on suspicion of two charges of unlawful sex with a minor.
Gittens said the girl met with Anthony Butler through a late-night telephone party line. Police said Butler then took her south from Sacramento. The 31-year-old man is a registered sex offender, Sacramento police Officer Konrad VonSchoech said, but he does not appear on the Megan’s Law sex-offender registry.
The spokesman added that police have not decided whetherButler would be charged in Sacramento as well.
“That all depends on what crimes were committed and where,” VonSchoech said.
The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office has yet to review the case, spokeswoman Bilen Mesfin said.
VonSchoech said the girl’s father drove to San Francisco and took her home.
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Worker Accused Of Having Relationship With Resident
MIDDLETOWN -- An employee at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School in Middletown has been put on leave after being accused of having inappropriate contact with one of the teenage residents of the home.
State police are investigating accusations made against Jamura Davis. Davis, a clinician at the school, is accused of having sexual relations with a 17-year-old boy at the facility for troubled youth.
Channel 3 Eyewitness News reporter Len Besthoff reported that the alleged relationship took place over the past two months.
The Department of Children and Families told Eyewitness News that an employee of the center was placed on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation into the allegations.
The department said it learned of the allegation last Thursday and that on Friday, CJTS staff notified state police.
While the DCF would not identify the worker by name, it said the staff member had been put on paid administrative leave and has been with the agency for the past year and a half and has an annual salary of $50,000.
Besthoff reported that the center has also been the focus of allegations of alleged beatings and boys not returning from off-campus furloughs.
In response to similar incidents and complaints that the design of the school is not conducive to rehabilitating troubled boys, the governor at one point called for the closure of CJTS.
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The Veterans Administration recently announced the opening of a new treatment facility for female veterans. When it opens in December, the New Jersey facility will be the only residential treatment center in the country exclusively treating women with what’s known as MST: military sexual trauma. It’s a growing problem in the ranks: a Pentagon report released last March showed that the number of reported incidents of sexual assault spiked from 2,400 in 2005 to nearly 3,000 last year—an increase of roughly 24 percent. Dr. Mic Hunter is a student of the problem. He holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, maintains a practice in St. Paul, Minn., and recently published a book titled, “Honor Betrayed: Sexual Abuse in America’s Military,” which looks at this issue among women and homosexuals. NEWSWEEK’s David Botti spoke with Hunter about the scope of the problem, the type of abuse some veterans deal with—and possible solutions. Excerpts:
NEWSWEEK: What is the history of military sexual abuse, and what’s the record of treatment given to victims?
Mic Hunter: There are two questions there. One is how long has this been going on. The answer is forever. We have records of it in the Civil War, and certainly in war sexual assault has been widespread. How long [have people been paying attention to it?] Only recently. The ’60s was the first time that sexual assault of a male was even [considered illegal] in the military. All the laws were written for the victim to be female. And so every time there’s a scandal, people talk about there being zero tolerance for it. Only recently has meaningful action been taken.
What types of cases are you seeing?
There’s a whole continuum from harassment, to fondling, to violent gang rapes. Particularly, males tend to be gang-raped, and so they suffer more physical consequences than females, who tend to get raped by a single perpetrator. One of the things that’s different about the military is that you can’t just walk off your job like you could in the civilian world. And you’re in a situation where you might worry that you’re gonna get killed, that if you report me you’ll get accidentally killed from friendly fire. If it’s a male-on-male sexual abuse there’s a concern that a superior will say, “Well, that wasn’t sexual abuse, that was homosexual contact, and so we’re gonna bring you up on that.”
How does rank play into all of this?
Sexual assault is about power. Someone who already has authority over someone can use that as a way to be sexually inappropriate with them. From the very beginning military personnel are trained to follow orders, and so they’re at a disadvantage; it’s harder for them to say no to somebody. In one case this sergeant ordered a woman to come to his barracks after lights-out, and she thought that was kind of funny. She didn’t really think of it as an illegal order, and then once he got her there he sexually assaulted her. People in the military have that whole idea: “Well, I’m a trained killer, but I froze in this situation.” The reaction was: “It’s not the enemy attacking me, it’s family.” It has an incest dynamic in it: “I’m supposed to trust these people; they’re supposed to be part of this special organization, and now look what’s happening to me.”
How is the military sexual trauma in this conflict—the Iraq time period—unique?
Historically, occupation armies have a higher incidence of sexual assault than do active invading armies. We know that since WWII. The thing that’s different about this war from previous wars is that more people are talking about it. I just got back from the male survivor conference in New York City, where there were two workshops on military sexual trauma, which is the first time in 11 years there has been a single one. So to have two of them … something different is happening. When the VA is starting to have groups for sexual abuse survivors, these people that were abused 30 years ago are coming forward and asking for help. So we know that it’s been going on forever … but how it’s different is that they have services for it.
Is there anything being done to treat sexual abuse victims while they’re still deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan?
There are toll-free numbers that people can call, and e-mails. I tried calling those and e-mailing them, and it was out of order every time I called it. That’s one of things that people talk about, how the worst part was not the sexual assault, it was how they were treated afterward—that they were making a big deal out of nothing or “That’s what you get for being in a man’s army. You shouldn’t have been there in the first place,” or “That’s all you’re good for is to service male personnel.” And people are also afraid that it will destroy their career. People that have volunteered and want a career in this, they’re told, “Well, if you report this you’ll be seen as a nutcase and you’ll never advance, or you’ll be seen as a troublemaker.” A lot of people are going to civilian mental health people because they’re afraid they won’t be believed, or they’ll be punished somehow if they go to the VA.
Is anything being done to help the perpetrators with their problem?
Well, frequently what happens is that the victim gets transferred; the perpetrators, their lives don’t change much. Part of that is because base commanders take it personally if something like this happens, because it happened on their watch, and they don’t want to look bad. And so a lot of people are told, “Just work it out between the two of you, or we’ll transfer one of you, and don’t make an official report.” You can get help without making a report.’
What is the VA doing about all of this?
Some hospitals really get it and have somebody that’s identified as [the go-to person]. They have brochures that are out in waiting rooms. There’s still a huge stigma in that some people will say, “You ought to not have this person specialize, because then everybody knows if you go to see that person what you’re going to see them for.” We already know that combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder are afraid they’ll be stigmatized if they seek help for their PTSD from combat, and then you add sexual abuse in there and it’s even more of a stigma. A lot of guys that have PTSD from combat also have the sexual abuse. That’s one of the risk factors. Someone who has experienced childhood sexual abuse, or abuse as an adult, and then is exposed to combat is more likely to develop posttraumatic stress disorder.
How has military sexual abuse changed as the armed forces have changed?
The military culture has changed. It’s an all-volunteer army, for one thing. You get people who want to be there, instead of just draftees. You’re getting more women, and that’s changing the culture. The topic of sexual abuse, generally, is less taboo … it’s not one in a million cases. We know that historically, over the last 60 years, one in a hundred male veterans reported they were sexually assaulted while in the military. And, of course, that’s underreported, because sexual abuse itself is the most underreported crime.
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OLYMPIA - Minority House Republicans, already reeling from a sex scandal that prompted one member to quit, have severely disciplined a Vancouver lawmaker for inappropriate remarks to a female staffer.
Rep. Jim Dunn was stripped of all committee assignments on Monday, and will be required to attend sensitivity training, said House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis. Dunn had been the ranking Republican on the Housing Committee, and sat on the powerful House spending committee.
The House's chief clerk also has decided to restrict Dunn's reimbursements for travel and expenses, a decision that DeBolt said he supported.
"We know that society has moved beyond off-color remarks between men and women," DeBolt said Monday evening. "We're big kids, so we need to act like that."
The strength of the discipline raised the possibility that Dunn could resign. DeBolt noted that leadership can't kick a member out of the Legislature, "so we had to look at what we could do as a caucus. And this was what we needed to do."
He added: "Jim has the ability to make his decisions on how he deals with this from here on out."
Dunn, reached at home Monday evening, said he had not read DeBolt's letter of reprimand. Dunn said he had no plans to resign.
Dunn said he already has apologized to the woman who was the target of his remark, which came at a gathering after a House Appropriations subcommittee meeting in the Tri-Cities last week.
Dunn also said he could not exactly recall what he said to the woman, but said he was "sure it was very inappropriate, because I do that kind of thing." He also acknowledged it could have been interpreted as sexual harassment.
"I was a little bit upset about something that had happened a little earlier in the day. I was a little sharp with this young lady, and I shouldn't have been," Dunn said.
Dunn also told The Columbian of Vancouver that he couldn't recall exactly what he said to the woman, but that it was along the lines of "I bought you a drink because I want to take you home," the newspaper reported.
The discipline comes less than a week after former Rep. Richard Curtis, R-La Center, resigned amid a sex scandal that erupted following a Republican legislative retreat in Spokane.
Curtis, who is married and has voted against gay-rights legislation, complained to police that he was being blackmailed by a man he had sex with in his hotel room.
Dunn represented the 17th District from 1996 through 2002, then was elected again in 2004 and 2006. The district covers east Vancouver and other parts of Clark County.
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- A teenager in Mascoutah, Ill., is serving two detentions for hugging a fellow classmate.
Megan Coulter, 13, violated the Mascoutah Public School District's policy banning public displays of affection.
Superintendent Sam McGowan said Megan was warned last week about her behavior and that administrators at Mascoutah Elementary School handled her punishment accordingly.
Parents had to sign a waiver at the beginning of the school year informing them about the new rule.
"I honestly don't think I did anything that would be endangering anybody else," Megan said.
"Megan has always been told it's very important to follow the rules, but there's also a point where you have to say some of the rules don't make sense and they need to be fixed," said her father, Dean Coulter.
The school district's ban on public affection began this year.
Megan will serve her second detention on Tuesday.
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Eight Victorian teenage boys who took part in the filming of a sexual assault on a 17-year-old girl have avoided youth detention.
The girl was filmed performing oral sex on two boys, had her hair set alight, was spat at and urinated on during the incident at a park at Werribee, in Melbourne's outer-west, in June last year.
At a Children's Court on Monday, a judge told the boys they treated the victim in a cruel and callous manner and described their behaviour as cowardly and brutal.
"It was a sustained attack by a pack of young men upon a vulnerable young woman," he said.
He ordered all the boys - aged between 15 and 17 at the time of offending - to participate in a rehabilitation program for male adolescents about positive sexuality.
All except one of the boys had convictions recorded against them. The judge placed six of the boys on youth supervision orders for between 12 and 18 months and two of the boys were placed on probation for 12 months.
He said that if it was not for their guilty pleas and willingness to participate in rehabilitation they would have been at "significant risk" of serving time in youth detention.
Each of the boys had previously pleaded guilty to procuring sexual penetration by intimidation, making child pornography and assault.
The judge said he also took into account they had no prior convictions and their youth.
A DVD of the attack - which was titled 'C**t the Movie' - was distributed throughout the community, the court heard.
The 16-year-old who filmed the DVD and the two youths - both 17 - who were involved in the sexual assault each received 18-month youth supervision orders and had convictions recorded against them.
A 16-year-old boy was the only youth to avoid a conviction and was placed on a 12-month probation order after the judge found he did not directly engage in the sexual or physical assaults and had good insight into his offending.
The judge said the victim had organised to meet two of the boys at a Werribee train station on the day of the attack and had no idea a group of at least 11 boys was meeting her there.
He said the girl sustained significant emotional and psychological trauma from the incident and this was compounded by the filming and distribution of the DVD.
The judge said placing the boys in a rehabilitation program was not the "easy option".
He said the program would involve the boys and their families engaging in individually tailored treatment over about nine months.
The program was very successful in protecting the community, changing sexual offenders' attitudes and behaviour and ensuring they did not reoffend, he said.
The maximum penalty for the offences is three years in youth detention.
No parties involved in a Children's Court hearing can be identified.
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On 29th June, 1934, Chancellor Adolph Hitler, accompanied by the Schutzstaffel (SS), arrived at Wiesse, where he personally arrested the leader of the Strum Abteilung (SA), Ernnst Roehm. During the next 24 hours 200 other senior SA officers were arrested on the way to Wiesse. Many were shot as soon as they were captured but Hitler decided to pardon Roehm because of his past service to the movement. However, after much pressure from Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler, Hitler agreed that Roehm should die. At first Hitler insisted that Roehm should be allowed to commit suicide but, when he refused, Roehm was shot by two SS men. (Spartacus.schoolnet.co)
Later, Hitler delivered a speech at the Reichstag in which he justified the murders of his rivals saying:
"If anyone reproaches me and asks why I did not resort to the regular courts of justice, then all I can say is this: In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the supreme judge of the German people. It was no secret that this time the revolution would have to be bloody; when we spoke of it we called it 'The Night of the Long Knives.' Everyone must know for all future time that if he raises his hand to strike the State, then certain death is his lot."
The Night of the Long Knives is seen by many as the turning point where Hitler made it clear that he was above the law and the supreme leader of the German people.
Operation Falcon: Blueprint for removing dissidents and political rivals
The Bush administration has carried out three massive sweeps in the last two years, rolling up more than 30,000 minor crooks and criminals, without as much as a whimper of protest from the public.
Operation Falcon is the clearest indication yet that the Bush administration is fine-tuning its shock-troops so it can roll up tens of thousands of people at a moment’s notice and toss them into the newly-built Halliburton detention centers. This should be a red flag for anyone who cares at all about human rights, civil liberties, or simply saving his own skin.
Operation Falcon was allegedly the brainchild of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his counterpart in the US Marshal's office, (Director) Ben Reyna. But its roots go much deeper into the nexus of right-wing Washington think tanks where fantasies of autocratic government have a long history. The name, Falcon, is an acronym for “Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally.” It relates to the more than 960 state, local and federal agencies which are directly involved in the administration’s expansive criminal dragnets.
Typically, law enforcement agencies are protective of their own turf and wary of outside intervention. The Falcon program overrides these concerns by streamlining the information-sharing processes and setting up a chain-of-command structure that radiates from the Justice Department. This removes many of the traditional obstacles to agency interface. It also relocates the levers of power in Washington where thy can be manned by members of the Bush administration.
Dictatorships require strong centralized authority and the Falcon program is a logical corollary of that ambition. It creates new inroads for Bush to assume greater control over the nationwide police-state apparatus. That alone should be sufficient reason for alarm.
The first Operation Falcon took place during the week of April 4 to April 10, 2005. According to the US Marshal’s official website, “The emphasis centered on gang related crimes, homicides, crimes involving use of a weapon, crimes against children and the elderly, crimes involving sexual assaults, organized crime and drug related fugitives, and other crimes of violence.” More than 10,000 criminal suspects were arrested in a matter of days. It was the largest criminal sweep in the nation’s history and, according to U.S. Marshall chief Ben Reyna, “produced the largest number of arrests ever recorded during a single initiative.” The Washington Times noted, “The sweep was a virtual clearinghouse for warrants on drug, gang, gun and sex-offender suspects nationwide.”
The emphasis was clearly on quantity not quality.
Still, this doesn’t explain why state and federal agencies had to be integrated with local law enforcement simply to carry out routine police work.
More importantly, it doesn’t explain why local police ignored their duty to protect the public just so they could coordinate with outside agencies. According to one report “162 accused or convicted of murder” were picked up in the first sweep. That means that the police knowingly left murderers on the street and put the public at risk while they orchestrated their raids with federal agencies.
That’s irresponsible. It also suggests that there may be a more sinister motive behind the program than just ensuring public safety. The plan appears to have been devised to enhance the powers of the “unitary” executive by putting state and local law enforcement under federal supervision. Once again, it’s an attempt by the administration to extend its grip to the state and local level. We saw a similar strategy unfold after Hurricane Katrina when the Bush administration used the tragedy to seize control of local police and National Guard units so they could establish de facto martial law. Troops, armored vehicles and mercenaries were deployed to New Orleans to fight lawlessness and looting even though desperate people were still stranded on their rooftops waiting for food, water and medical attention.
Operation FALCON II was another massive dragnet which covered the western half of the country and focused primarily on “violent sex offenders”. The raids took place from April 17-23, and succeeded in apprehending 9,037 alleged fugitives. The US Marshals web site boasts that the operation “took some of the country's most dangerous wanted criminals off the streets and made America's communities safer”.
Nonsense. Despite the claims of success, only 462 “violent sex crime” suspects were arrested, along with 1,094 “unregistered sex offenders” and other minor “sex crime” suspects. That leaves 7,481 suspects who were rounded up for other unrelated reasons.
Who are they and what crime did they commit? Were these drug violations, dads who were delinquent on child-support payments, traffic tickets, jay-walking?!?
7,481 people who were incarcerated are unaccounted by the government’s estimate. This means that the bulk of them were probably undocumented workers who were shunted off to the INS (Immigration and Naturalization) or dispatched to Cheney’s tent-city gulags in western Texas. (See: Democracy Now “Human Rights Groups Call for Closure of Texas Jail Holding Undocumented Immigrants” 2-23-07)
Similar inconsistencies appear in “Operation FALCON III, which covered the eastern half of the country from October 22 - 28, 2006.” State, local and federal police-units arrested 10,773 fugitives; including 1,659 sex offenders, 971 unregistered sex offenders, 364 gang members, 140 homicide suspects, and 3,609 drug violations. Once again, the US Marshal’s official tally doesn’t pencil out. This time, 4,030 extra people were rounded up without any further explanation.
Who are they and have they been charged with a crime?
Furthermore, sex offenders, drug users and gang-bangers are not what we normally consider “some of the country's most dangerous wanted criminals”. In fact, there are indications that the great majority of these people are not violent at all. For example, of the 30,110 total fugitives who were apprehended in all three Falcon sweeps, a measly 586 firearms were seized.
Clearly, the people who were arrested for the most part were not “armed and dangerous” nor were they a serious threat to public safety. They were probably just the unwitting victims of an overzealous US Marshals office and an ideologically-driven Justice Department.
So, what was the real impetus for the Falcon raids? Was it just a bean-counting exercise to see how many people would fit in the back of a Paddy-wagon or are they a dress rehearsal for future crackdowns on potential enemies of the state?
Bogus News Reports
The Falcon operation illustrates the incestuous relationship between the media and the state. They are two wings on the same plane. The Justice Department provided the TV networks with official footage of policemen and government agents raiding homes and handcuffing suspects; and the media dutifully aired the video on stations across the country. The scenes were accompanied by a reassuring commentary lauding the administration’s new crime fighting strategies and linking homeland security with the nebulous war on terror.
Attorney General Gonzales told reporters, “Operation FALCON is an excellent example of President Bush’s direction and the Justice Department’s dedication to deal both with the terrorist threat and traditional violent crime.” He added, “This joint effort shows the commitment of our federal, state, and local partners to make our neighborhoods safer, and it has led to the highest number of arrests ever recorded for a single initiative of its kind.”
So far, not one of the more than 30,000 victims has been charged with a terror-related crime.
The media-hype surrounding the raids has been celebratory and uniform; cookie-cutter articles appeared throughout the US press (most of them unsourced) highlighting the cooperation between the divers agencies while providing an upbeat account of what amounts to police repression. Thousands of nearly identical articles appeared in the nation’s newspapers which seem to have been authored by high-ranking officials at Homeland Security and protégés of George Orwell; although the difference between the two is far from certain.
Even stranger, most of the articles in the mainstream media can no longer be retrieved via a Google search. They seem to have vanished into the black-hole of Homeland propaganda.
No matter. If the media was supposed to make Gestapo-like crackdowns look like normal police operations; they succeeded admirably. Mission accomplished.
Former Governor of Louisiana, Huey Long once opined, “When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in an American flag.” Indeed, he could have added that the corporate media will gladly provide the flag and the public relations campaign as they have with Falcon.
Falcon; new drills for a new world order
The Falcon operations can only be understood in the broader context of the ongoing assault on the constitutional system of checks and balances; including the repeal of habeas corpus, warrantless wiretaps and searches, and the use of torture.
For the last 6 years, the Bush administration has been busy dismantling the legal safeguards which protect the citizen from the arbitrary and, oftentimes, ruthless actions of the state. To that end, detention camps are being prepared by Halliburton within the U.S., secret courts have been established which deny due process of law, American citizens are arrested without charge, law enforcement is increasingly militarized, and the media has strengthened its alliance with the central government.
Additionally, in October 2006, George Bush quietly changed the Insurrection Act, which prevented the President from deploying troops inside the United States. Bush’s revision effectively overturns the Posse Comitatus Act which put strict limits on the executive’s power to use US troops in domestic situations. Just days earlier Bush signed a similar bill, "The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007" which gives Bush the power to take command of National Guard units across the country which are traditionally under the control of the state governors.
Without fanfare, Bush has taken control of all armed forces and militias inside and outside of the country and now has a monopoly on all the state-sanctioned tools of organized violence. It’s a coup that could never have succeeded without the tacit cooperation of the media.
Bush is now free to declare martial law in response to a natural disaster, a pandemic or a terrorist attack. The congress is powerless to stop him.
Also, Bush recently signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which allows the president to arbitrarily declare citizens and non citizens “enemy combatants” and imprison them indefinitely without charge. The new law gives Bush the authority to disregard the Geneva Conventions and the 8th amendment’s ban on “cruel and unusual” punishment and apply “harsh interrogation” which may include torture. The act effectively repeals habeas corpus, the cornerstone of American jurisprudence and the Bill of Rights.
The Military Commissions Act cannot coexist with the US Constitution; the two are mutually exclusive.
The Military Commissions Act, The John Warner Defense Authorization Act, the Homeland Security Act, the Patriot Act, and the myriad presidential signing statements have conferred absolute power on George Bush. The question is whether or not some incident will arise that will persuade Bush to use his extraordinary new powers.
General Tommy Franks predicted that a “massive, casualty producing event” might cause “our population to question our own Constitution and begin to militarize our country;” a scenario that many see as likely now.
Is that it? Will another terrorist attack provide the rationale for overturning republican government and declaring martial law?
If so, then we should know what to expect.
According to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) it would mean “the suspension of the normal functions of civilian government, implying the cancellation or postponement of state and federal elections.” (Global Research) It would also “close public and government facilities not critical for continuity of essential operations.” (FEMA)
Northern Command would assume control and under “the classified 'Continuity of Government” (COG) Operations Plan' a secret 'shadow government' would become functional, redeploying key staff to secret locations.” (Global Research)
Also, “all forms of public gatherings or citizen's protests which question the legitimacy of the emergency procedures and the installation of a police state” would be banned. The military would be deployed to carry out “police and judicial” functions.
Martial law in the US would be applied with the utmost attention to public sensibilities and perceptions, avoiding the garish display of force we see in Iraq. It would be a “kinder and gentler” martial law with a limited number of military personnel on the streets (just enough to remind us that things have changed) and an emphasis on “preemptive” policing operations. (Expect Falcons’ 4, 5 and 6 etc) It would probably be disguised by a carefully crafted public relations campaign and a predictably cheery moniker, such as, “The Security Enhancement and Homeland Fortification Act”. The possibilities are limitless.
The Bush administration is also prepared if some unforeseen tragedy befalls congress, like another anthrax attack.
In fact, the American Enterprise Institute, to which the Bush team is closely aligned, has already "issued proposals for the operation of Congress following a catastrophic terrorist attack". They advocate the "APPOINTING" of individuals to the House of Representatives "to fill the seats of dead or incapacitated members, a first in American history" "The Continuity of Government Commission is self-commissioned', its members being neither elected nor appointed by any government body and mostly made up of professional lobbyists". (Read the whole article: http://www.conservativeusa.org/cog-ronpaul.htm) (Coincidentally, Newsweek article “White House Rehearses for Domestic Attack” 2-23-07; “The White House is staging a high-level exercise Saturday to test responses to the prospect of a massive domestic terrorist attack.” These drills are a critical part of the C.O.G. regimen dating back to the Reagan administration)
According to the AEI’s plan, the future United States congress will be comprised of lobbyists and industry representatives. What else would one expect from an organization that believes that corporate interests should determine policy?
These are the chilling precedents which have paved the way for further government lawlessness and abuse. They foreshadow the ominous transition from representative government to autocratic rule; from inalienable rights to martial law.
The Falcon operations are just a small part of this larger paradigm. The program is not designed for rounding up minor crooks and drug dealers, (which no one really cares about anyway) but for removing leftists, dissidents and political rivals. These are the real targets. The power of the state is measured in terms of how effectively it defeats or eliminates its enemies. And, the Bush administration has shown a remarkable aptitude for crushing its rivals.
The Crawford Fuehrer
One day, after a particularly savage domestic purge; we can expect President Bush to stride to the presidential podium and reiterate the same words that were uttered by his German predecessor 60 years ago:
"If anyone reproaches me and asks why I did not resort to the regular courts of justice, then all I can say is this: In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the American people, and thereby I became the supreme judge of the American people….Everyone must know for all future time that if he raises his hand to strike the State, then certain death is his lot."
And another quote I want to mention again:
"The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation." - Adolph Hitler (Mein Kampf)
View the article here
New laws in Oklahoma change the way sex offenders are monitored.
Oklahoma now has a three-tiered system that classifies sex offenders by the type of crime they have been convicted of.
It dictates how long and how often they must register.
But even police say the way the law is written, it may not guarantee that the public is any safer.
The wording of the law automatically places 80% of Tulsa offenders at the highest level of sexual offenders... meaning police can't focus on the most violent sexual predators.
Another law also requires sex offenders to update their driver's license or ID card every year.
They will be given a new card that is clearly labeled with the words "sex offender" across the front.