font-family: 'Arizonia', cursive; Michael Stichauf - "As I understand it now...'til it changes": November 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How Crooked “Coppers” Get Around the Inconveniences of Probable Cause, Search Warrants and that other Inconvenience... The LAW!

Every day we hear stories about how another “copper” (my term for a corrupt & crooked cop) has been caught and arrested because of malfeasance. I just read another story about a Baltimore copper violating ANOTHER individual’s civil rights. Let’s discuss just what it is that these “Scumbags” do to get around these, oh-so-inconvenient laws. First, though, I’m going to let you read excerpts from the latest story that I’ve just read.

This story is courtesy of “” from Nov. 06, 2013. Special to the Chronicle by Houston-based investigative journalist Clarence Walker, This is Part 8 in his continuing series of stories about prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption in the drug war.
In an unusual recent case, the US 4th Circuit Appeals Court overturned a conviction in a crack cocaine case despite the defendant having pleaded guilty. The case involving Baltimore drug dealer Cortez Leon Fisher was not overturned because the plea agreement was coerced or not voluntary -- the usual standard -- but because it was based on the lies of a corrupt police officer.
The case -- but not this tale -- began with an October 29, 2007 raid on Fisher's home executed by Baltimore police officer and DEA drug task force member Mark Lunsford. The search turned up crack cocaine and a loaded weapon. To avoid a decades-long stretch behind bars, Fisher copped a plea to one count of possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Federal District Court Judge Frederick Motz then sentenced Fisher to 10 years in federal prison.

Fisher subsequently appealed to overturn his plea agreement after Lunsford was indicted on theft and perjury charges involving his use of bogus informants to falsely arrest and rip off drug dealers. In July 2010, the crooked cop got 20 months in federal prison for his crimes.

Lunsford's arrest and conviction uncovered a pattern of fabricating evidence to enrich police officers and selected informants, who received payments in cases in which they had not provided information. Reward money was fraudulently awarded to undeserving informants, and the proceeds were split between Lunsford and the snitches.
But it gets worse. Lunsford also had a long history with Fisher and some of his family members, whom he had previously arrested on drug charges, some of which had been dismissed. In this light, Lunsford's pursuit of Fisher takes on the appearance of a personal vendetta.
When Fisher discovered that Lunsford had been indicted for perjury and theft in 2009, he wrote a pro se appeal to the judge who sentenced him, requesting that his guilty plea be vacated. But Judge Motz demurred.

Unquestionably if the defendant had known of Lunsford's misconduct he would have filed a motion to suppress, and the motion may well have been successful," Motz wrote in denying the appeal. Nevertheless, "the defendant does not deny he was in possession of a firearm (as he admitted under oath during his Rule 11).Under these circumstances, I cannot find that a failure to allow defendant to withdraw his guilty plea would result in a 'miscarriage of justice.'"

Fisher appealed that decision to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. In his appeal, Fisher wrote that Lunsford "set me up and arrested me unlawfully." The informant in the case, Fisher said in the appeal, "never gave Lunsford information concerning drug activities at Fisher's home." Citing prior arrests of Fisher by Lunsford years ago, the appeal went on to say that after Lunsford arrested Fisher in 2007 in the current case, "the officer returned to my apartment later, stole a safe containing all my jewelry specifically numerous diamonds with blue and red design, including a diamond watch."
The 4th Circuit overturned the trial judge. The key question for the court was whether a police officer's misrepresentations of facts invalidated a guilty plea under the due process clause. The court noted that in order to invalidate a plea, the defendant must show that egregious impermissible conduct preceded the entry of the plea and that the misconduct influenced the defendant's decision to plead guilty.
While one member of the three-judge panel voted to dismiss Fisher's appeal, arguing that "natural reaction of extreme distaste to Lunsford's criminal act does not instantaneously transform Fisher's guilty plea into some form of due process violation that permits him now to withdraw his plea," his was a dissenting opinion.
Judges James Wynn and Henry Floyd disagreed. Lunsford's lies influenced Fisher to cop a plea and his perjury "undermined the entire proceedings, thus rendering the defendant's pleas involuntary, and violated his due process rights," they wrote. "A plea based on law enforcement fraud is invalid even if the person is guilty," the court held in itsruling in the case.

Cop v. Drug Dealer
Baltimore police officer Mark Lunsford despised drug dealer Cortez Fisher. Their adversarial history stretches years to when Lunsford rode patrol near Baltimore's notorious Murphy Homes Project, where Fisher and his brother called "Midget" sold drugs, according to court documents.
In a search warrant affidavit dated October 29, 2007, Lunsford wrote that he received reliable information from a snitch that Fisher was selling drugs out of his house. Then, based on that false report, Lunsford claimed he personally saw Fisher sell drugs from his car. It was all a lie.
Court records filed in Fisher's case include a redacted FBI document dated October 23, 2009, where Lunsford admits that he fabricated source information in Fisher's and numerous other narcotics cases that sent citizens to prison. Lunsford told FBI agent that, fully aware of Fisher's involvement in the drug trade, he had lied when he said the informant he had named in the affidavit was the source of his information about Fisher.
Fisher may well have had a career as a drug dealer, but as the 4th Circuit noted, "even the guilty can suffer a miscarriage of justice."
Cortez Fisher remains imprisoned as he awaits word on what prosecutors will do. In the worst case, he will stay there until 2017. Meanwhile, the crooked cop whose perjurious information led to Fisher's arrest and subsequent plea bargain is a free man, not on parole, and not in the clutches of the criminal justice system.
For the guy from the mean streets of Baltimore, there is nothing left to do except to start over -- again.
"They took everything I had," he explained.
As you can see, this copper had no qualms about doing whatever he wanted to do in order to arrest and convict Mr. Fisher. Most cops start their careers realizing that, if they want to arrest the people they know are guilty, they SIMPLY CAN’T ABIDE BY THE LAW. A police officer is taught that to stop someone, the officer must have probable cause. Probable cause is a very “pliable” law. Although it is found in the Fourth Amendment coppers have, for decades, shaded this concept to suit their needs of getting a stop and an arrest. An individual can be stopped for such “credible” things as; a traffic violation, an officer seeing an individual make a hand to hand exchange of drugs and money (NOT to be confused with one individual handing another money because they are lending it to them BUT our wonderful coppers use that as “probable cause” because even though there wasn’t the actual sight of drugs, they simply say there was!) or being seen running from a car that has just had it’s alarm set off. These are all legitimate reasons for stopping someone. Here comes the shady stuff. According to one of my sources, a BIG and favorite excuse for probable cause is someone acting in a suspicious manner. My source tells me that after some time in the field a cop realizes that he’d almost never make an arrest without shading these “probable cause” examples. As far as I’m concerned, the minute a “police officer” does this, he becomes a “scumbag copper”. If you take a few minutes and look at different people who are out and about, you can usually find someone who you can say might be considered “suspicious” or is acting in a “suspicious manner”. The conditions that need to be met for “probable cause” are very pliable! Suspiciousness, my source says, is every dirty copper’s favorite probable cause excuse. He goes on to say that after a while, the copper won’t even consider probable cause. Yes, he knows he’ll need to present it in court but he has plenty of time (weeks usually) to invent something! So, when he arrests someone who knows they haven’t done anything wrong, and they want to know what his probable cause is, the copper’s response is a smack in the face and a kick between the legs. You don’t get smart with a dirty copper! That’s right; asking the rational question, “What’s your reason for stopping me?” is getting smart to a dirty copper!

I’d like to take some time, now, to discuss the actions and decision of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Fisher’s appeal was initially rejected by his original Judge, Judge Motz. That’s normal, 99% of judges won’t admit they’ve made a mistake. He next appealed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ended up overturning his conviction. What I found disturbing, though, was the fact that the decision to overturn his conviction was NOT unanimous! Yes, he did win 2-1 and you take what you can get but it seems to me that this appeal was a no-brainer. To have one judge say, “natural reaction of extreme distaste to Lunsford's (the copper) criminal act does not instantaneously transform Fisher's guilty plea into some form of due process violation that permits him now to withdraw his plea” just blows my mind. In layman’s terms, the gist of all our civil rights rests on the fact that they are there, in the first place, to protect everyone from any form of misconduct whatsoever! For this judge to say that, however distasteful the copper’s ILLEGAL act was, it really doesn’t matter when all is said and done, is a disgrace. A complete and utter disgrace! Thank God we don’t allow one judge to make these monumental decisions and make no mistake, they are monumental. In the future, this decision will be referenced by another lawyer who is fighting for the freedom of his client. The fact that this decision will affect all other similar cases, make it monumental. Judges Wynn and Floyd, the remaining two judges summed up the reversal this way, "A plea based on law enforcement fraud is invalid even if the person is guilty". I added the emphasis at the end of this quote because this is the most important part of the ruling, as far as I’m concerned. I realize that this particular doctrine is controversial. There are people out there who believe in things such as, “The ends justify the means”. Applying that phrase to this ruling means that because this man is guilty, it doesn’t matter that ILLEGAL “means” were used to convict him. That’s just not how our justice system is setup to work. The fact that the “Bill of Rights” were the first amendments to our Constitution automatically make a person’s “Civil Rights” the MOST important factor in our justice system, overriding anything else (new laws, etc.) that may be enacted. When a decision is to be made such as this one, everything else becomes subordinate to civil rights! Consequently, the fact that this man was guilty means nothing if his civil rights are violated.   

Americas aversion to “unreasonable searches and seizures” goes back prior to the Revolution. In fact, this grievance was one of the major causes of our decision to declare our independence. One of the major causes! We were tired of the King’s army busting into the homes of our citizens, whether they were members of “The Sons of Liberty” or just plain old “Joes”. “The Sons of Liberty” were America’s version of what we refer to nowadays as “terrorists”. This group formed as a result of the King’s institution of the “Stamp Act” as well as other oppressive acts. They were thought to have burned down the homes of the British civil servants who governed in America at the King’s pleasure. The British army never had “just cause” or even the slightest hint of propriety when they “came a callin’ and a bustin’ in”. These particular instances formed the basis of the “probable cause” and the “unreasonable searches and seizures” clause in the fourth amendment. As far as I’m concerned, and I’m sure a lot more Americans will agree, this amendment is the most important one. Knowing that I’m secure in my home and property are the basis for a safe and secure life. Knowing that as long as I’m doing what’s right, I can be assured that I’m safe in my home without someone busting in under the pretense of legality, is a must for a civilized citizenry. Yet, when coppers lie about informants in order to get search warrants that trust begins to erode. Soon enough, people stop trusting coppers, AS WELL AS POLICE OFFICERS (the good ones). When you read this story, you see that, not only did this copper lie to arrest Mr. Fisher; he lied in order to get into his home to steal his safe and other items of value.

One thought in closing. Remember, if you can, back to when two bank robbers, dressed in body armor, robbed a bank in Los Angeles. When they were leaving, the police showed up and the robbers, who were loaded “for bear”, decided it was time to shoot it out with the police. The bad guys shot policemen, civilians, even cars when they got in their way. I remember coming away from that news footage with two feelings. The first was a feeling of pride and appreciation that the police officers, who were paid to “serve and protect”, did just that. Those police officers protected the injured civilians as well as their own wounded officers. The other feeling that I came away with was this feeling, after trying to put myself in the shoes of those citizens, of utter hopelessness and despair! Imagine being one of those civies, who was laying there injured and helpless, and you know in your heart that the people who were hired to protect you were NOT ABLE TO PROTECT YOU because they too were injured and hurt! There’s this almost indescribable feeling of UTTER HOPELESSNESS when you realize that the world has suddenly been turned upside-down. No longer are you safe from that nut with an AK-47! Well, that’s the same kind of feeling that I get when I read these stories of dirty coppers. Let’s face it, when we KNOW we’ve done something wrong and we’re arrested, legitimately, there’s a certain acceptance of our fate. However, when we haven’t done anything wrong, and we’re wrongly arrested and/or convicted, that’s basically the same feeling of hopelessness and despair that we get when we realize that there is nothing in place anymore to protect us from these illegal arrests. Now, I know that Mr. Fisher was actually caught with the drugs and the gun. I also know that there are people out there who believe that those facts right there justify whatever acts, however illegal, are used to arrest and convict Mr. Fisher. In America folks, that’s just not the way it’s supposed to be and that’s as old as the constitution and as solid as our country! Unfortunately, there are coppers out there who have found ways around that constitution and we need to shed the light of day on the “scumbags” or it’s just gonna get worse and that feeling of hopelessness and despair will pervade every mile of this beautiful country and that just can’t happen. Like the article says, ‘Fisher may well have had a career as a drug dealer, but as the 4th Circuit noted, "even the guilty can suffer a miscarriage of justice." ‘. As far as I’m concerned, if there’s only justice for the innocent and NO JUSTICE for the guilty, we have no right calling ourselves a civilized society!

That’s all for now folks. That’s “As I understand it now... ‘til it changes”
Michael K. Stichauf

Thursday, November 21, 2013

More Corrupt Copper Stories!

I've decided to post every week or two, stories of "copper" corruption and malfeasance. Here are a couple from the recent past.

These stories are courtesy of Phillip Smith, November 20, 2013.

In Bridgeport, Connecticut, a former state trooper rejected a plea bargain and will instead face trial on charges he stole money and property from a motorcyclist killed in a traffic accident. Former Trooper Aaron Huntsman turned down a plea bargain that would have seen him do a year in jail, but now faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Huntsman claimed he was strung out on prescription pain pills when he committed the theft, which was caught on his cruiser's camera, and he went into treatment after his arrest.
In New Orleans, a former New Orleans police officer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to violating the federal Controlled Substances Act. Jason Cross was arrested November 1 on charges he conspired to sell drugs in January. Federal prosecutors filed a bill of information rather than an indictment against Cross, suggesting that he is cooperating with prosecutors. He is looking at up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted on the current charges.

And these next stories are also courtesy of Phillip Smith, November 13, 2013.
A dirty cop in Philly costs convictions, two abusive Border Patrol agents get sent away, and we have a trifecta of crooked jail guards. Let's get to it:
In Philadelphia, a state court judge threw out 53 convictions tainted by a corrupt cop last Friday. Common Pleas Supervising Court Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper threw out the convictions, which involved former Philadelphia police officer Jeffrey Walker, who was arrested by the FBI in May on charges he plotted with a government informant to rob drug dealers. In at least one incident, Walker stopped a suspect's vehicle, planted drugs, and then arrested the suspect. He and a confederate then stole $15,000 from the man's house. The city is also paying out massive settlements in lawsuits bought by Walker's victims, including many who served prison time after being framed in court, they claimed.
In Donaldsonville, Louisiana, an Elayne Hunt Correctional Center guard was arrested last Thursday on charges he was trying to smuggle drugs into the jail. Daron Toussant, Sr. was the object of an internal investigation at the jail, which led to a search of his home, which in turn led to the seizure of marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids, and a handgun. He is charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession with intent to distribute synthetic cannabinoid, illegal carrying of a weapon, and conspiracy to introduce contraband to a penal facility.
In Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, a Blair County Prison guard was arrested last Saturday after being caught bringing drugs to work. Fred Zigler, 27, went down after showing up with Oxycontin, Oxycodone, and acetaminophen tablets. He is charged with possession with intent to deliver and other drug charges.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, a Charlotte Correctional Institution guard was arrested Tuesday after investigators in an unrelated case saw him selling pain pills to another man. Brian Paul McAvoy, 28, was arrested at work, where he was found to be carrying a pain pill. He is charged with sale an delivery of a controlled substance, introduction of contraband into a correctional facility, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
In Tucson, Arizona, two former Border Patrol agents were sentenced Wednesday to serve two years each in federal prison for mistreating suspected marijuana smugglers. Former agents Dario Costillo, 25, and Ramon Zuniga, 31, went down for a 2008 incident in which they descended on a smugglers' encampment in the desert, but only managed to capture four of 20 smugglers. They forced the unlucky men to chew handfuls of marijuana and flee shoeless into the chilly desert. They were convicted of violating the four men's civil rights. Castillo was looking at up to 40 years and Zuniga, who was convicted of misdemeanors, was looking at up to four years.
This next story is courtesy of Matt Cantor, Newser Staff, October 4, 2013.
(NEWSER) – Lt. Jonathan Josey, the Philadelphia police officer who was caught on video punching a woman at a street party, has been suspended for 30 days and is set for dismissal. Disorderly conduct charges against the woman, Aida Guzman, 39, will be dropped, prosecutors say. After being hit, Guzman landed on the ground with a bloody face; she was left with marks on her lip and elbow.
Following the punch, she was arrested. For his part, Josey "could be criminally charged. The DA would have to make that decision," says the police commissioner. The clash occurred at a Puerto Rican Day Parade in north Philadelphia. The head of the city's Fraternal Order of Police says Josey's firing "stinks," CBS Newsreports.
This story is courtesy of Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff, August 6, 2013.
(NEWSER) – An Iowa shoplifter is contemplating legal action after a cop beat her repeatedly about the head and face—all in view of a store video camera, NBC Chicagoreports. Brandie Redell admits she was trying to steal clothing at a Von Maur Department Store in February when store personnel escorted her to a security office. The office video (click the NBC Chicago link) shows Redell with her young daughter and two Davenport policemen, when one of the cops suddenly attacks her.
Another video segment shows an officer holding Redell while the other punches her. That officer, Scott Crow, says he attacked because Redell had bit his finger and refused to let go—but the video shows him attacking with both fists. As it stands, Crow has faced disciplinary action at his department, and Redell says her vision was impaired by the attack. "I think it's important to demand the same kind of accountability for him that she's facing for her shoplifting accusation," says the head of a journalism non-profit group.
If you want video of this story with the shocking in store video go to;

My commitment is to shed light as often as possible on the corrupt, illegal, ridiculous endeavors of "crooked coppers" because so many people are affected by these "disgraces to the badge"!
And that's "As I understand it now... 'til it changes".
Michael K. Stichauf

Monday, November 11, 2013

Three Presidents- Three Missed Opportunities
 As I listened to an interview on the radio, I was reminded of three Presidents and their opportunities to change the culture of secrecy and deceit that is characteristic of the U.S. government. I want to discuss why, I believe, Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama weren't able to capitalize on these opportunities.

When Jimmy Carter assumed the Presidency, in January of 1977, he was in a most advantageous position. On the heels of the disastrous presidency of Richard Nixon, Carter seemed to be the right man, at the right time, for what was to prove to be, a most difficult job. The public had just found out about “Watergate”, “The Pentagon Papers”, “The Plumbers” (the secret group tasked with plugging “leaks” coming from the White House), the break-in at Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office (Ellsberg is the man who “leaked” “The Pentagon Papers” to the newspapers) and the Church commission. Voters were FED-UP! With the abuses of power of their government fresh in their minds, they wanted someone they could trust and they wanted someone they thought could change the culture of secrecy and deceit that had become the Government of the United States of America. Carter solidified the public’s belief in himself, as an honest man, with two things that happened leading up to his election as President. The first was Carter’s statement that, “I will never lie to the American people”. An extremely important statement considering the fact that President Nixon, during a press conference about “Watergate”, said emphatically, “I am NOT a crook”! The second was Carter’s unprecedented interview with “Playboy” magazine where he made the comment that he had, “lusted in his heart”. The American people had never met a man such as Carter who they had a chance to vote for. And vote for they did!

Bill Clinton ran for president during a time when, I think, the American public was just plain tired of twelve years of Republican rule in the executive office. The Soviet Union and communism, in general, had suddenly and shockingly collapsed (in the feared eastern bloc countries). The threat of “global thermal nuclear” war was now just a memory in the collective consciousness of the American people. America was also realizing that “trickle-down economics” was a fraud perpetrated by the Republicans on the American economy and it was being exposed by the downturn the economy was taking as campaign season started. Voters were ready for a change. They wanted someone who wasn't a part of the old guard and they wanted someone who was electrifying! Bill Clinton filled both those rolls. Clinton talked about wholesale changes to the climate of secrecy that the Reagan and Bush presidencies created after Jimmy Carter. One of the things talked about was opening the UFO files (I want to say up front that I’m not making a case, pro or con, in regards to UFOs). I’ll never forget a question that was asked of Clinton during a press conference. When someone asked him about whether he was going to make the UFO files public, Clinton responded that he would because HE, HIMSELF, WAS INTERESTED to find out about what we knew! Clinton also thought that it was time that the American people knew what the government knew in regards to the Kennedy assassination. He felt that there were facts that were being hidden from the public and it was time to put an end to that. I believe it was in 1995 that Clinton set up a commission to gather facts about the investigation that were missed or OMITTED by the Warren report. He was definitely on to something because the Secret Service got wind of the commission BEFORE Clinton made it public and DESTROYED EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF INFORMATION that they had ONE WEEK BEFORE the commission began! How convenient considering the fact that it now looks like the last shot that hit Kennedy in the head (which mortally wounded him) was from an accidental discharge of the AR-15 rifle that a S.S. agent was holding in the car directly behind Kennedy! Again, by the time Clinton decided to run, the American people were tired, for example, of the secrecy that led to the Iran- Contra situation and everything that went along with it.

Barak Obama was elected because of the excesses (financially) of the two wars that we were fighting, as well as the lies that were finally uncovered that got us into the wars, initially. America watched as then Secretary of State, Colin Powell, told the U.N. about WMDs and other lies and half-truths. It was this speech that basically sealed Sadaam Hussein’s fate. The public was also tired of Dick Cheney’s bullying. His steamrolling tactics put a heavy strain on his relationships with Donald Rumsfeld and others in the “Dubya’s” cabinet. The “Cheney apparatus” was basically a shadow administration with Cheney as the “shadow President” or puppet master, pulling Dubya’s strings as he made the key wartime decisions that, secretly and possibly illegally, led us into our war with Iraq. Once these lies and covert activities were discovered, the public was fed-up with a war that they were being told could go on for decades! It was, AGAIN, a case of the public refusing to put ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE OLD BOYS NETWORK back into office. They rejected John McCain in favor of a fresh face and a vision of hope that people so dearly needed in the face of 6-7 years of war and an economic collapse with historic possibilities. Like Bill Clinton, Barak Obama touched people at a visceral level. His speeches spoke of hope and “change we can believe in”. “Change” is what the voters wanted again. They listened as Obama talked of ending the war once in office. He adamantly spoke of closing “Guantanamo Bay”, a promise that was number one in the hearts of a great number of American voters. Just this one promise could have been the garneror of a huge majority of Obama’s votes! It was, and is, an issue that struck people at such a gut level because of the acts of torture perpetrated on the prisoners of war. Americans were ashamed of these acts, dare I say, crimes! Closing Guantanamo was a way for these Americans to forgive themselves and hopefully, for the world, to forgive us! It never happened!

Each of these men had ideal circumstances for them to take advantage of when they chose to run for the presidency. It’s impossible to know whether these men chose to run because they saw the opportunity that was handed to them or if they were going to run anyways and circumstances happened to break right for them. In any event, all three circumstances, all three opportunities and all three men came together to create “a perfect storm” for change to the government of the United States of America”.

Change is a strange thing. If we took a hard look at ourselves, we’d realize that there is a fear of change, in varying degrees, in all of us. The fear comes from the thought of us being taken out of our comfort zones. As we go along in life, we all have to adjust to change as we try to embrace the new things that are occurring around us and to us. We make changes to adjust to a new job, a new boss and new personalities in an environment that we must accept. We make changes to adjust to a new living environment, such as buying a home. Change also represents “something” that we CAN’T control. Consequently, we strive to create situations and environments that are to our liking and won’t change UNLESS WE WANT THEM TO.

The United States Senate is an old and staid institution. Once referred to as “The Old Boys Club”, they have been famous for being set in their ways. The U.S. House of Representatives, although slightly more progressive (at times), is also an institution set in its ways. These two institutions would have to be changed in order for these three men to create a new environment of openness in our government. Since the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, power has been increasingly flowing towards the president. Slowly but surely, the legislative branch of government has taken a back seat to the President. Presidential power reached its zenith with the George W. Bush administration. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Congress granted Bush unprecedented powers. In essence, they really felt that they had no choice, lest they be accused of being “unpatriotic”. This was a very real fear considering what Cheney and his “crew” did to anyone that they felt got in their way. The Congress though, was able to increase its power of secrecy precisely because of the “culture of fear” created by the very attacks on the towers. Everyone agrees that the failure of our intelligence agencies was at the root of our inability to know that the attacks were coming. Consequently, the President, in conjunction with the Congress, created a larger National Security “world”, as opposed to “community” to try to make sure that we don’t get caught with our proverbial “pants down” again. Just another tool for the “G” to use to collect more data and keep more secrets from the citizens, not just of the United States, but also of the world.

Another “institution” that would need to change would be the large and sprawling apparatus referred to as the “Civil Service Community”. More specifically, “Career Civil Servants”. Any government as big as the U.S. Government needs people to staff the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of everyday jobs that are required for a government to run smoothly. Growing ever larger as the years have passed, they too jealously protect their jobs and fiefdoms. This institution (for lack of a better word) is a lot harder to get a grasp of. They’re like trying to grab gelatin, as it oozes through your fingers while grasping at it. It absolutely is the largest group to try to corral in order to change the culture of silence and secrecy.  

Although all three Presidents came to power with great hopes and dreams, they were walking into a situation that was doomed from the start. The branches of government, that they so desperately needed help from, had their heels dug in deep to keep anyone from taking more of their cherished powers from them. It simply was doomed from the start. As the saying goes, “It takes two to tango”, and the Government wasn't dancing!

Another problem that each of these men had was that they were all outsiders. Both Carter and Clinton were Governors of states and southern states, for that matter. As the southern states lost respect because of their defiance of the “Civil Rights Act”, their Senators and Representatives slowly lost their influence as well. Therefore, two men from the South, although elected President by the people of the United States, weren't given any respect from the Congress as a whole. They certainly weren't the men that the Congress would have chosen. An example of how important it was to have the backing of the houses of Congress is Lyndon Johnson’s presidency and the terrific amount of legislation that he was able to pass. From 1931 through to 1961, the South had a lock on the speakership of the house. In fact, Sam Rayburn from Texas held the speakership for 17 out of 21 years from 1940 until his death in 1961.  As Rayburn’s protégé, Johnson learned from the “Master of the House” and was himself referred to as the “Master of the Senate”. Although Johnson lost Rayburn’s influence in the house, he had learned enough from him to get what he needed legislatively, when he needed it.

As Jimmy Carter took over the Presidency in January of 1977, he brought with him his “Georgia Mafia”. Every President brings with him to the White House the people who got him there. The problem with Carter’s advisers was that they refused to bend to the will of the “Washington way”. They rubbed the Washington social scene the wrong way, choosing to keep their “Georgia skin” and preferring to go to country music concerts instead of the symphony. Now, that might not have been so bad, if they were willing to learn how to work with the Congress. Carter’s congressional liaison, Frank Moore, was a novice on the national level. He never established a relationship with Tip O'Neill and they down right refused to play the political game of “trading favors” to get legislation passed. Even Lyndon Johnson, with the influence that he had, knew his influence sprang only from his ability to know what it was that every single member of the Senate wanted in order to get his vote. That’s not only how you get legislation passed, it’s how the game of life is played. Carter refused to allow Moore and Hamilton Jordan (another member of the Georgia Mafia) to play this game of “give and take”. They never had a chance from the get-go. As stated before, the Congress is an institution, set in its ways, whose members do not intend to pass legislation for an inconsequential, inexperienced, soon to be one term, Southern President. These members of Congress, fearing the loss now of their “pork”, refused to give up one of the last things that they still had to get themselves re-elected. Jimmy Carter’s high idealism of refusing to trade “pork” for votes, couldn't even get the Democrats to help him out. It was the Senators’ and the Representatives’ fear of losing control of their ability to guide their destinies by not being able to bring jobs and money back to their states and districts, that doomed Carter’s hopes of fundamentally changing government. I believe Carter felt that if he could have four years of passing legislation, in this new “pristine” (without the “dirty” backroom deals that Carter found to be revolting) fashion, it would start a proverbial snowball effect, forever changing the way the Congress conducted its business. To Carter’s credit, he certainly stuck to what he believed in. He never wavered in his four years from this tactic.

Bill Clinton was elected because of the growing frustration with the previous twelve years of Republican dominance of the White House. He had the misfortune though, of coming into office at a time in history when politics was becoming “toxic”. After winning the White House for the last three elections, the Republicans developed an arrogance that absolutely blinded them to the fact that now that there was no Soviet threat, the American public was turning its focus inward and they didn't like what they saw. Americans were finally concluding that they were sold a bill of goods about “trickle-down economics” (Repubs. are still advocating for it) and the example of its failure was evident as the economy was in a down-turn as we entered the campaign season for the 1992 Presidential elections. “It’s the economy STUPID” became a famous Clinton campaign slogan. Being embarrassed by losing the White House to a relatively unknown southern Governor, the Republicans hit back. We all agree that Bill Clinton was no saint. All the sordid information that came out, starting in the campaign, deserved to come out. After all, we are talking about shedding the cover of secrecy in government. Yet, Newt Gingrich and the Republican’s took it too far. The nastiness and downright lies went too far, setting an example for the kind of politics we have today. Yes, the voting public needs to be informed but when that goes too far and lies start to dominate the atmosphere, we get to the point that we’re at now... dysfunction! As Barak Obama has discovered, the Republicans have no shame and that started with Bill Clinton. Now, to be fair, the Democrats have their “snakes” but you’d be hard pressed to count them on one hand. Newt’s “orchestration” of “his” government shutdown was a blueprint for today’s version that we are just coming out of. What is so baffling is the fact that they couldn't see the forest for the trees. How could they have overlooked the fact that Newt’s shutdown ruined his career and only served to bolster Clinton’s ratings! What the Republicans decided in 1994, to refuse to work with Bill Clinton, they have carried over to today with President Obama. It has created an environment of total stagnation. Again, more deceit and secrecy.

Another Republican answer to being embarrassed by Clinton’s election was to cede control of the party to the radicals. A situation that the moderates have yet to wrestle back from them. Again, as with Jimmy Carter, Clinton was an outsider. But, Clinton learned from Carter’s mistakes. He had experienced people with him who knew how the culture of Washington was and was willing to play ball with the Congress. Unfortunately, for Bill Clinton, he made a couple of early mistakes with the Congress which almost sidelined his Presidency the minute he made the first one. That first mistake was putting his wife Hillary in charge of the Democrats’ first attempt at “Health Care Reform”. If there was anyone that the Republicans despised more than Bill, it was Hillary. Her attempt at health care was doomed from the start. Even with Clinton’s more experienced advisors, I think that this move (Hillary wasn't elected to anything yet) upset even their closest Democratic supporters.

As I stated before, there is an inherent adversarial relationship between the Congress and the White House. This is true even when the President’s own party holds sway in both houses. Such was the case with President Carter’s presidency. In fact, the 95th Congress was the first one since 1965 where any party, in this case, the Democrats, had a filibuster proof 60% majority. Yet, Carter’s tactics would deepen that adversarial relationship and be the reason behind him losing an unprecedented opportunity to put his stamp on a new culture in American politics. In Bill Clinton’s case, he only had a Democratic majority for his first two years. The last six years of Clinton’s presidency was a brutal exercise in futility that was highlighted by the government shutdown, bitter political accusations and eventually his impeachment trial. It seems that Clinton’s impeachment was a forbearer for the next two presidencies to have to worry about because politicians realized how damaging this could be to a President. What I’m talking about is the fact that both Bush and Obama have had to worry about their political rivals making accusations of impropriety and there being this hush-hush talk of impeachment. There never was a beginning of such events, but there were rumblings that lie just underneath the surface.

Today’s relationship between President Obama and the Republican controlled Congress is, and will be, legendary. I don't need to go into the specifics because anyone interested in reading this post will know the highlights, and lowlights, of this relationship. What I will say is that because of the relationship, America got a watered-down Healthcare bill. That’s both parties’ fault.

President Obama started out on the campaign trail as, what some would say, a “Maverick”. His campaign’s ability and connection to social media fueled a finance juggernaut that no one had seen before. He had financial advisers, initially, who gave him terrific advice as he campaigned his way to the Presidency. Remember, America was just hit with an economic catastrophe that threatened our financial existence. Unfortunately, in the interregnum before he took office, Obama was told that his financial advisors would never be confirmed for the positions that he wanted for them and in no uncertain terms- “get rid of them now”! He caved, a bad example to set before he even took office.

Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo Bay was a key factor in him being elected. Yet, as the beginning months of his Presidency passed, people started to realize that Obama wasn’t going to keep this promise. We need to remember that Obama’s advisers were some of the same people who worked for Clinton. Men like Rahm Emanuelle were tough scrappers who’d been bloodied in the congressional wars of the 1990s. They knew what was going to be needed to make Obama’s presidency a success, or so they thought. What they did do was to realize when it was time to acquiesce and compromise. I believe that is exactly what Obama did with Guantanamo. It is useless to beat your head against the wall when you know it will never crack! Obama learned that sometimes it’s better to go along to get along.

I also think that Obama came to realize that what he wanted to do, open up the government and its secrets, pull us out of Iraq and restore the civil rights that had been trampled on by the Bush administration, were actually things that were going to be a great benefit to him in the end. Being able to finally track down and kill Osama Bin Laden was the decisive factor, I believe. The huge National Security World was reaping great benefits for Obama and it was simply too tempting NOT to use their information. Obama has made the “Drone Program” a fixture in the war on terror and has already learned how to fend off questions about the programs legality. As we watch Obama over the years, we can visibly see him change from an outsider to someone who is starting to fit in with “business as usual” I fear it is basically too late for the latest attempt by a President to change the culture of secrecy and deceit in government. This President has chosen to use the new laws to gather information to his advantage as opposed to change them and restore the civil liberties of the American public. Again, another chance for change is lost.

Trying to write about how to change the culture of the career civil servant is extremely difficult. Because these individuals are private not elected employees, there is no way to get to understand each individual’s thinking. There are possibly millions who have different political beliefs and they are loyal NOT to the President in power but to their immediate boss and possibly HIS/HER political leanings. The fact remains that these people have a job to keep and they too, will do what’s needed to keep that position. Trying to get the State Department to change the way they do things in their everyday functions, was and is, an impossible task that every Secretary of State, over the last 50- 60 years, has commented on. It just doesn’t happen overnight. Unfortunately, these are the very people who make the government work on a daily basis!

We are at a crossroads today as to how our government will function given the ferocity of the accusations thrown across the aisle from Republican to Democrat and Democrat to Republican. There is gridlock, the likes of which we’ve never seen before. People are frustrated and we’ve yet to find anyone who can fix this mess. Three different Presidents have lost opportunities to change the culture of secrecy and deceit  as well as divisiveness that threatens the world’s greatest Democracy. No, I’m not a “sky is falling” type of guy, nor do I think our system of government will fall. I do believe though, that if something isn’t done soon, America will have consequences to pay that I don’t believe we can contemplate now!

So, again, that’s “As I understand it now... ‘til it changes.” Let me know what you think.

Michael K. Stichauf

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Scariest Case yet of Police Abuse of Power

Checkout the video of this story prior to reading my post;

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is now getting almost comical that, if I really searched hard enough, I would be able to post at least one story a day about some sort of police misconduct! "The Young Turks" (as you know, my favorite news outlet) has posted, for your perusal, another disgusting case of abuse of power. This one is revolting in it's details and, dissecting it through the eyes of even a sympathetic "copper" supporter, scary in it's intentions.

A man was pulled over as he was leaving the parking lot of a Walmart in southern New Mexico. The "copper" (my disparaging name for bad cops) said he "rolled" a stop sign. Apparently, the copper felt the need to get this man out of his car to search him. According to the copper, while he was conducting a "pat down" search of the man, he said that the man "clenched his butt cheeks" warranting further investigative measures by the copper! This is where it gets unbelievable. By the time the coppers get finished with this poor guy, they have taken him to the hospital and the docs perform numerous anal probes, x-rays and a colonoscopy on him!!

My first problem with this whole situation is this; why was the man taken out of his car in the first place to be searched. He was pulled over FOR A STOP SIGN VIOLATION. More and more these days, coppers are using little "probable cause" excuses on people so they can run their name through the data bases that they have. Folks, this is one of the reasons that we formed a new country, so we didn't have to put up with a "police state"! And this is exactly what is beginning to happen! Just the other day, I was sitting outside at a Burger King, taking a break from a bike ride. I was rolling a cigarette when one of the coppers, from my town, flew into the parking lot of the BK and ran over to me yelling, "Put that shit on the ground and step away! I hope that's not a joint! Step away from the evidence!" Well, before I could even react, he's got me by my arm and grabbing for my tobacco pouch. Folks, with so many people either not being able to afford to buy brand name cigs or just refusing to pay the high price for them, many more people are buying the tobacco and rolling them themselves. It's been going on for ten years now. This is not a new sight for a copper to view. He immediately realized that it was only tobacco but, now that he felt that he had established "probable cause", he went on to publicly search me right in the middle of the Burger King parking lot in MY HOME TOWN! How embarrassing!! Of course, he ran my name- nothing! Consequently, I was allowed to go on my way. There was NO LEGITIMATE REASON for him to search me and run my name!

Here's another part of the story that blows my mind. OK, they did get a search warrant... but what judge, in his right mind, would give the kind of search warrant to the coppers that he did BECAUSE A MAN SEEMED TO CLENCH HIS BUTT CHEEKS DURING A PAT DOWN!! Ladies and gentlemen, when the coppers "pat down" a suspect, they aren't looking to win a "gentleness contest", especially when they are in the area of an individuals crotch. They purposely hit you hard in that area, which is probably what happened in this guy's case. Consequently, when they hit his crotch, he  reacted like every other man would and that's what the coppers noticed. He clenched his butt cheeks! It's a defensive action. I simply cannot believe that clenching one's butt cheeks is a viable reason to grant a search warrant. Any judge with half a brain would have thrown that copper out of his office and this one should have done the same. 

So, now that this situation has the appearance of being LEGIT (the search warrant), the coppers take this guy to a hospital, so they can PROBE HIS ASSHOLE!! Can you believe this! Well, the first hospital was smart enough to refuse to do anything to this guy. Smart people. No problem, they went to another hospital and apparently scared them enough to where they agreed to do the procedures that the coppers wanted! This is TRULY the scariest part of the whole story. Not only did the docs do numerous anal probes, they also did x-rays. Why didn't they see on the x-rays that this poor guy had nothing shoved up his ass!! It baffles me. OK so, once they couldn't find anything through the anal probes AND the x-rays (here comes the scary part), the docs SEDATE THIS GUY AND PROCEED TO DO A COLONOSCOPY!! THEY SEDATED THIS GUY!! Since when has it been kosher to do this kind of thing that was only done in Stalin's Soviet Union, Hitler's Fascist Germany and Tito's Yugoslavia!! When did we turn into this type of country. Folks, something's wrong in this country when the coppers can get away with these kind of tactics! When an individual has NO SAY in whether they are sedated and have a procedure performed on them, you are NO LONGER LIVING IN A DEMOCRACY THAT WAS, AT ONE TIME, THE ENVY OF THE MODERN WORLD!! It's that simple! And another thing, if you think that this must have happened because maybe the guy was looking kind of shady or maybe he was dressed "like a druggie", dirty jeans or messed up hair or whatever, IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!!! Just think of those times when you have to run out to the store before it closes and you throw on a pair of sweats and you don't have time to comb your hair 'cuz the store might close before you get there, and you get pulled over. 99% of the cops today are going to look at you funny and invent a reason for probable cause so they can "roust" you!! According to a study that I read a while back, coppers said that the easiest thing for them to do is to pull someone over FIRST, AND THEN INVENT A REASON FOR PROBABLE CAUSE LATER to justify pulling you over in the first place!!Amazing!! Frightening!!

In any event, watch the video again after you read my post. It just isn't right!! And that is, "As I understand it now... 'til it changes".

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned because I will let you know EVERY TIME I run across a story of police abuse of power.
Michael Stichauf

Sunday, November 3, 2013

“Those Damn, Pesky Inalienable Rights”

I've recently received a video from a friend that is very disturbing to me and should be disturbing to others when they see how reminiscent it is of what has been happening here in the United States since 9/11. Here's the link; view it and then read the rest of my blog. Granted, the video is about a situation in Australia but when I think about it, I'm reminded of what's gone on here in the U.S. The slow erosion of our rights has been an ongoing process and it hasn't changed with the election of President Obama. 

When those planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers, the government of The United States of America told us that they needed to "trample" on our rights as citizens in order to keep "us all" safe from TYRANNY! O.K., they didn't use the word "trample" but they might as well have.We were told that "they" (the Government) needed these new laws, such as "Warrantless Wiretaps", to start with because if they had to take the time it would take to get a warrant, the "terrorists" would already be gone, they would already have a new and different cell phone, thereby putting "us" in danger. These laws were also made more "palatable" for the citizenry to accept by telling us that they would only need to be in effect for a short time until "we" got a grip on this "terrorist thing".

Whenever a "tragic" situation occurs, our Government has always decided to institute laws that end up suspending our basic human rights. Lincoln did it, Roosevelt did it and most recently "The Dubya" has done it. President Bush has done it and has tried to make it legitimate by stating that these new laws are needed as "pre-emptive" strikes against the terrorists. Time and again we have seen how these very laws have proven to be a ridiculous attempt by the Government to "Fight the good fight" and actually end up creating more terrorists, home grown, than if the laws were never enacted. One of the worse offenders (laws) is detaining people without the right of "habeas corpus". In effect, we've been able to hold people in jail WITHOUT ANY END IN SIGHT for that individual. It not only has been applied to terrorists overseas either. It's been used against American citizens.

Another thing that the Government has used to it's advantage is the use of "Executive Orders". I believe that what I've recently heard is that between Bush and Obama, they've issued more of these orders than every other president combined. It's just a way for them to get what they want without ANYONE (Congress) telling them, "NO!"

Now, without spending the next hour going through all the different laws that have been enacted that have "trampled" on our basic human rights, I think it's safe to say that we are now functioning under a more restrictive environment that seeks to restrict demonstrations, spy on our different modes of communication and generally crack down on all the rights that we held so dear. All this in the name of "The War on Terror".

My last point on this subject has to do with what I thought about while watching the video from "Anonymous". When I heard all the things that the law in Australia was set up to do, it reminded me a little of "Stop and frisk" and I also thought about the fact that once a Government takes something away from the people, IT NEVER, I REPEAT, NEVER GIVES IT BACK. Folks, we will never get back the basic human rights that have been taken away from us. IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. Remember when, earlier in this post, I stated that the "G" was trying to make these laws more "palatable" by telling us that they would only need these "tools" for a short time? That once they got a "handle" on these terrorists they'd allow the laws to expire without renewing them? Well, good luck with that. How's that been working out for us, huh? I'll tell you how. President Obama has renewed ALL of them. I was a big supporter of Obama but he backed out on a campaign promise the minute he walked in the front door of the White House. He never did close down Guantanamo. It's been proven over the years that once the Government gets something, they NEVER GIVE IT BACK!

Believe me when I tell you that I'm not one of these ACLU "kooks". There's nothing wrong with the ACLU but there are some "kooks" among them, but I am someone who believes strongly in our country, like so many others and it just kills me to see some of the things that the Government gets away with these days. I'm not only talking about the subject of this post but the fact that the "G" governs now without even caring that there are citizens out there. They can careless about us. It's like we don't even exist. They are in office to make money for themselves and for their friends.

So, that's "As I understand it now, 'til it changes". Let me know what you think. 
Have a great evening, Michael Stichauf. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Police Corruption and Malfeasance

Police Corruption and Malfeasance

I've been wanting to "Blog" something in regards to Police Corruption or Police Malfeasance for some time now. These are topics that really push buttons in most people causing extremely strong opinions... and rightfully so! I suspect that, although you do hear about these stories in the news, there are plenty more that don't see the shining light of public scrutiny whether it's from the print media or the t.v./cable news or the internet. Consequently, I'm going to highlight two stories that I've run across over the last few months. The fact that I've even got one story, let alone two (over JUST a couple month's time) to talk about, is a sad editorial about the state of affairs in the police department community of "The United States of America"! Let's get the conversation going.

Whenever I hear a story about police corruption or malfeasance it starts a series of feelings inside me that I almost never experience. Over the years I've tried to make sense of these feelings, to try to put them into words, but it's extremely hard. Outrage is an easy one. Initially, there is this great feeling of outrage because these are people that we hand our trust over to. We give them this trust in order to protect us from harm. As the years have rolled on in our society, we've come to realize that there are people out there who are inherently mean, nasty and generally no good. They are the grown-up version of that bully that we've all had to deal with in school. Yes, I know that 99% of the bullies we've gone to school with naturally grow out of it and turn into "fine, up-standing citizens". I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about that rare case that never seems to realize that being a bully isn't the right way to go about living. There are other people that we've realized we need to be protected from. The thieves who want to take the fruits of our hard labor and make them theirs. There are also con artists, rapists and murderers who believe that the rules DO NOT APPLY TO THEM. These are the people who we want the police to protect us from.That's why there is this outrage that I feel when I hear about malfeasance or corruption. When the person who we've given our trust to, commits the same type of crime that we've asked them to protect us from, it's almost an unthinkable act of betrayal! Outrage!

There's also another feeling that I go through and this is the one that's so hard to put into words. I guess the best word I can come up with that best suits what I feel is "helplessness". Ya, I think that's the best descriptor. Now, you might be wondering why I would feel such a strong reaction to an incident that didn't happen to me. If you're someone who is concerned about your country and the people in it (which includes yourself), you realize that if something like this has happened to someone else, it most certainly can happen to you or someone you love. I'm starting to think that "betrayal" is at the root of all the feelings that I feel in this type of situation. The feeling of "helplessness" is a direct result of the betrayal that I feel when this happens because there is nothing that I can do about it. I have no control over that betrayal and that's why I feel helpless. It's a psychological fact that people who DON'T have control issues tend to go through "helpless" feelings when something happens that's out of their control. When someone who HAS control issues has to deal with something that they can't control, that feeling of helplessness is even stronger. 

Therefore, "outrage" and "helplessness" are the feelings that get triggered when someone I've put my trust in, breaks that trust. In essence, the "copper" who breaks this trust, ends up becoming the exact same person who we've asked him/her to protect us from in the first place. It's a despicable situation and one that should be prosecuted harshly, which brings me to my next point. 

There have only been a couple of situations of this sort that seem to have been prosecuted in the manner in which they warrant! Most of the cases you hear about, the "copper" or "coppers" get a slap on the wrist. They might get suspended for a few weeks or maybe they get stuck on desk duty for a short period of time but I'll bet that the amount of times that the offenders have been sentenced to jail is less than 2-3%! No more than that. In so many cases, NOTHING HAPPENS! It's simply outrageous! The two cases that I'm going to be giving you a link to, as far as I can tell so far, have had NO LEGAL ACTION TAKEN. Again, OUTRAGEOUS! 

The first case is from Las Vegas and it occurred in July of 2011. I got the story from an article that was written for a publication in July of this year. It's about a family that was arrested for not letting the police use their house as a stack-out spot so they could spy on their neighbors who the police suspected of domestic violence. Here's the link to the story; Read this and you'll be shocked.

The next story is current. I posted something about it on my Google+ site last night. It's a video of a police "informant" who the "coppers" sent to a "Smoke Shop" in order to plant evidence in. It actually borders on a "Stupid Criminals" story. Here's the link;

So far, nothings been done in either case. This is the worst part of these cases. No one will prosecute. I just don't understand it. Please let me know what you think. Leave me comments so we can start a conversation. And that's "As I understand it now... 'til it changes"
Michael K. Stichauf