Category Archives: Don’t be THAT guy

When Guns are Outlawed, bat update

Terrence V. Hartley. Courtesy Portsmouth NH PD.

Terrence V. Hartley. Courtesy Portsmouth NH PD.

They’re now saying it was a “metal bat,” and they’ve thrown the book at Terrence Hartley:

A Maine man who committed a masked home invasion in the Maple Haven neighborhood — during which he clubbed two people with a metal bat — was given four 7½- to 15-year state prison sentences Friday.

Terrence Hartley, 47, of 179 Tardiff Road, Clinton, pleaded guilty to and was sentenced for two felony counts of burglary and two felony counts of first-degree assault, according to the Rockingham Superior Court. The four state prison sentences are to run consecutive to each other, meaning his total sentence is 30 to 60 years in state prison.

As part of a plea agreement, four other charges alleging first-degree assault and a felony alleging his possession of cocaine were dismissed, according to the court.

via Bat-wielding home invader gets 30 to 60 years |

If there is anyone at whom the book should be thrown, it’s Hartley. Consecutive sentences FTW! Apart from the crimes for which he was sentenced, and the ones he pled to nullity, his record includes:

…convictions for aggravated felonious sexual assault, two domestic assaults, and probation violation.

Charming fellow. Well, we’ll see how sporty he’s feeling in 2044 at age 77, or 2074 at 107, or some time in between. We’re thinking some of the starch will be out of him by then.

Back in September when we first wrote this up, the story was his weapon was “a hunk of pipe,” and we recorded some of the details:

He wasn’t content to beat a man with the pipe. He wasn’t even done when he beat a woman. He also had to tune up a dogThere’s wrongand there’s vileand this guy came across the Vile Gap, swingin’ a pipe.

No word on whether the arresting officers gave him a taste of PR-24. Probably not: the sort of people who beat folks with sticks usually have a low tolerance for being beaten with sticks.

A misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals was one of the four counts broomed as part of Hartley’s plea bargain. When arrested, he was booked with his “last known address” noted, which is usually a marker of a homeless bum. We noted about his case:

Funny how all these folks who can’t afford soap can always seem to afford drugs. This particular loser sent two people to the hospital (and injured the dog, we can’t forget Fido) despite the opinion in some places that crime is caused by guns. There are thousands of guns in Portsmouth, New Hampshire itself and none of them hurt anybody yesterday, unlike Hartley. Indeed, he’s a lucky duck that he didn’t pick a house where the householders have defense means beyond a dog, or he could have seen Sunday’s sunrise in a morgue drawer instead of a cell window.

We also predicted that he’d hurt someone else after “his release from this trip to prison.” Since “this trip” has decades to run and he will emerge, if at all, as an old man, we may have overstated that prediction.

We still don’t know if his blunt instrument was a length of pipe or an actual bat. Baseball bats have a long and storied history here at When Guns Are Outlawed. A few other examples include:

So… there are criminals out there with baseball bats and other blunt instruments. Unless you plan to go bat-to-bat with them, they intend to make you the ball. 

Or you can do the responsible thing and gun up. If Hartley was the only one of these scrotes out there, you’d have until 2044 to make up your mind.

But he isn’t, and you don’t.

The Fate of an Informer

When the scalps Richard Bistrong delivered to Federal prosecutors got away, they took his as a consolation prize.

When the scalps Richard Bistrong delivered to Federal prosecutors got away, they took his as a consolation prize. He’s out of prison now, but no one will ever trust him again.

Recently, we told a story of how the ATF used a paid felon informant, and an attorney’s own willingness to suspend disbelief that he was being set up, to put the attorney away for years. Despite the high-profile given to undercover work against violent criminal organizations, this use of informants to target people who might be seduced over the line of the law is much more typical of how the Federal anti-gun police work.

You may remember a series of arrests at the 2010 SHOT Show — made with a Barnum blare of publicity, with federal agents helping the media spin the arrests as evidence that the entire show, and indeed the entire industry, were corrupt. We covered the collapse of the case here under the title Remember Those SHOT Show Arrests?, and covered the combined agencies’ full-court press at the 2013 SHOT show under the title To Reach The Stasi: 702-690-9142.

While the case was resolved with its collapse in late 2012 — the prosecution failed to gain any convictions in two trials, and the three executives who took plea bargains had their convictions overturned — one guy did go to prison, the informer; he was the only victim left that the prosecutors had handy, and they screwed him over. As the Wall Street Journal reports (use this Google Search if you’re paywalled out):

Mr. Bistrong, formerly a vice president for international sales at Armor Holdings, later bought by BAE Systems, may hold the distinction of being the longest-ever undercover cooperator in a white-collar criminal investigation, according to prosecutors and defense attorneys. He spent 2½ years as a government witness, monitoring 155 meetings, recording 527 hours of conversations and almost 25,000 telephone conversations, according to trial documents.

Bistrong lost his job, career, family, friends, health, and home, and is now a Federal felon, having been released after completing 12 months of an 18-month prison sentence. His years as a snitch, even if a failed one, are the cornerstone of his plan for a new life: teaching businesses how not to wind up in the sights of the Feds themselves.

The story of his work as an undercover cooperator shows the extent to which investigative methods usually confined to drug and Mafia cases have moved into the executive suite as prosecutors take on crimes like foreign bribery and insider trading. While the case that Mr. Bistrong worked on ultimately fell apart, these days, federal prosecutors in New York have made aggressive use of wiretaps in their yearslong crackdown on insider trading.

Harry Sandick, a former New York federal prosecutor, said that sting operations and other aggressive tactics had been used previously in white-collar cases, most famously in the Abscam case in the 1980s that led to the conviction of a U.S. senator and six congressman. But these tactics have come into common use in the past five years.

Prosecutors came knocking on Mr. Bistrong’s door in the spring of 2007, looking for somebody to work undercover. At the time, the government was ramping up FCPA enforcement, which was historically confined largely to corporate settlements and was rarely used in prosecutions of individuals.

According to people familiar with the matter, prosecutors and FBI agents had long hoped to target individual offenders. They also hoped to send a signal about a crackdown on white-collar crime. “We wanted people to start questioning whether their business partner was wired,” one of the people said.

Mr. Bistrong’s efforts led to bribery charges against 22 executives at more than a dozen medium-sized companies in the arms business over what prosecutors described as a complicated scheme to pay a $1.5 million bribe to the Gabonese defense minister for a contract to outfit the country’s presidential guard, according to court documents.

The government’s case ultimately collapsed after two trials, with all 22 executives walking free.

An estimate of the cost of the sting and investigation, $48,875,000, is far too low, as it assumes the burdened labor cost of a federal agent is $75k and didn’t count the years of post-arrest case-building. However inept it may have been, people still did work on it. The real investigation may have blown over $100 million.

Despite the costly failure of the sting, the Feds are insistent on trying it over and over.

When asked if the collapse of the ‘Africa sting case’ had chastened the agency, assistant FBI Director Ronald Hosko said last year, “We will do it again,” he said.

In order to get the big SHOT Show splash the prosecutors and agents wanted, Bistrong had to entrap not only business acquaintances, but also personal friends.

In 2009, the undercover operation transitioned into a sting, in which Mr. Bistrong invited 22 targets, including friends, to participate in a phony deal with representatives of Gabon—actually FBI agents in disguise. Mr. Bistrong said he knew he would be lying to business associates and friends. “I viewed my obligation as with the U.S. government, not against anyone,” he said.

The businessmen, including a former U.S. Secret Service official, all gathered at Clyde’s restaurant in Washington, D.C., in early 2009 to meet with a purported representative of the Gabonese defense minister and hear about the deal. They were told they could all get a piece of a $15 million contract to outfit the presidential guard if they paid a 20% “commission” to the minister. The 22 men later met in Miami with Mr. Bistrong and another Gabonese agent, and later at trial videotapes would show each executive agreeing to pay the commission during the meeting. 

This is a less rare technique than you might think. When corrupt (and since-promoted) ATF agents David Voth and Hope MacAllister, and corrupt (and since resigned-in-disgrace) US Attorney Dennis K. Burke and (since bruited for promotion also) AUSA Emory Hurley secured the cooperation of FFL Andre Howard and his Lone Wolf gun shop, Howard got cold feet and asked for something in writing. Hurley, whose plan was to indict Howard for cooperating under Federal persuasion and against his better judgment, refused; the only reason Howard was never charged is that the whole program collapsed when American agents were killed with the guns that had been killing their Mexican counterparts for months.

The prosecution’s aim was always a splashy show arrest, a rapid trial in the media, and extorted guilty pleas. They made it as far as the splashy arrest:

The businessmen were arrested en masse by an FBI swat team while attending a Las Vegas gun show in January 2010, and were later charged with FCPA violations in federal court in Washington, D.C.

…and the Trial by Media. For example, the dependably anti-gun Paul Barrett at the structurally anti-gun Bloomberg Businessweek crowed:

The FBI used the convention to round up 21 industry executives who allegedly fell for an undercover sting in which they agreed to pay illegal kickbacks to the defense minister of an African nation. In exchange, the small arms marketers thought they were securing the opportunity to sell millions of dollars in weapons and body armor. Unfortunately for them, they were transacting business with FBI operatives posing as middlemen, according to indictments unsealed by a federal judge in Washington. A 22nd suspect was picked up in Miami. “This is one case where what happens in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer at a news conference.

Breuer, of course, is a long-time anti-gunner and Clinton administration retread.  (Breuer was also involved in the planning and central control of Mexican gunwalking, and has the blood of murdered US Agents and honest Mexican cops on his hands). It was Breuer’s idea to hold the arrests at SHOT, which had nothing to do with the charges; his (and Barrett’s) hope was, as Barrett put it in the head and subhead of that article, “Big Shots Go Down at Gun Show: FBI arrests in a bribery scandal may leave the firearm industry wounded.” (The subhead has since been erased from the page, but it still shows in Google):

Screenshot 2014-03-30 14.08.18

Barrett singled out a Smith & Wesson executive (the only one of the 22 with a high-profile handgun or even firearms nexus, which is probably why he picked him) for opprobrium in the article.  To this day, Barrett and Bloomberg have not corrected the story, or apologized to Amaro Goncalves or Smith & Wesson, which were found blameless by the judge in the case.

That’s because Barrett is not a reporter, but a propagandist. In the same article (from 2010, remember) he gloats that the gun-sales spike of 2009 is over. He isn’t right in retrospect, and wasn’t right at the time: NICS checks were down because of supply constraints, not lack of demand. (According to FBI data, not the probably-Breuer-sourced leak Barrett got, 2010′s year-end number was 14.4 million, barely up from 2009′s 14.0m. But 2011-13 were 16.5, 19.6, and 21.1 million NICS checks, respectively, showing continued strength. So far 2014 (for which we have only two months’ data) is falling between the record years of 2013 and 2012. Here’s what the data look like, in millions of NICS checks, in both the FBI and more conservative NSSF-adjusted flavors; remember that in January 2010 Barrett crowed that, “the gun industry still faces the fizzling of the Obama sales rally.”


And the lesson is: Paul Barrett can be trusted — to lie, mislead, and misunderstand, whether he’s emitting sound waves or digital text. Not that he did anything that ABCNBCCBSCNNTimesPost didn’t do with the same case. None of them have apologized or retracted, either. “Journalistic ethics.” Always good for a laugh.

So we know that reporters got ahead for acting as uncritical press release rewriters on this, what about the other players?

So we know that Barrett’s designated villan, a Smith & Wesson sales VP, has been thoroughly and completely cleared by the legal system. That’s what happened to all the designated fall guys whose lives were trashed so that Lanny Breuer could have a press conference. Remember, though, what happened to the snitch?

Yep. Penniless, divorced, addicted, and imprisoned after two years of playing international-crime-guy lifestyle on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s dime, meaning yours if you’re a chump taxpayer like the rest of us. And they are eager to do more of these cases. Well played, FBI.

And the lesson is: there is no benefit to be had for cooperating with the FBI or ATF. The single most-screwed guy in this whole mess is Richard Bistrong, who did it to himself: he sold his integrity to save his freedom, and wound up without either.

The Institute for Legal Reform notes that the sharp practices of the US Attorneys in the SHOT Show case did not help the government, particularly, before the judge; and the agencies involved certainly damaged their reputation with him:

At the time, the Department of Justice announced the sting was “the first large-scale use of undercover law enforcement techniques to uncover FCPA violations and the largest action ever undertaken by the Justice Department against individuals for FCPA violations.”

After two trials, however, the government dropped the case. The judge, according to his transcript, had to “chastise the government in a situation where the government’s handling of the discovery process constituted sharp practices that have no place in a federal courtroom,” adding that it was “the end of a long and sad chapter in the annals of white collar criminal enforcement.”

The judge’s remarks are worth quoting [SCRIBD document] at greater length. He did indeed say that, but he also said all of this:

[L]et me make a few brief remarks. This appears to be the end of a long and sad chapter in the annals of white collar criminal enforcement. Unlike takedown day in Las Vegas, however, there will be no front page story in the New York Times or the Post for that matter tomorrow reflecting the government’s decision today to move to dismiss the charges against the remaining defendants in this case. Funny isn’t it what sells newspapers.

The good news, however, is that for these defendants, agents, prosecutors, defense counsel and the Court we can get on with our professional and personal lives without the constant strain and burden of three to four more eight week trials hanging over our heads. I for one hope this very long, and I’m sure very expensive, ordeal will be a true learning experience for both the Department and the FBI as they regroup to investigate and prosecute FCPA cases against individuals in the future.

Two years ago, at the very outset of this case I expressed more than my fair share of concerns on the record regarding the way this case had been charged and was being prosecuted. Later, during the two trials that I presided over I specifically commented again on the record regarding the government’s very, very aggressive conspiracy theory

that was pushing its already generous elasticity to its outer limits. Of course, in the second trial that elastic snapped in the absence of the necessary evidence to sustain it.

In addition, in that same trial, I expressed on a number of occasions my concerns regarding the way this case had been investigated and was conducted especially vis-a-vis the handling of Mr. Bistrong. I even had an occasion, sadly, to chastise the government in a situation where the government’s handling of the discovery process constituted sharp practices that have no place in a federal courtroom.

Notwithstanding all of this water over the dam, and there has been a lot of water, I’m happy to see and I applaud the Department for having the wisdom and the courage of its convictions to face up to the limitations of its case as revealed in the past 26 weeks of trial and the courage to do the right thing under the circumstances.

Having served at the higher levels of the Department, I know that that was not an easy decision. They never are, when so much has been invested, and the agents and the prosecutors are so convinced of the righteousness of their position. I for one however am confident this will be in the end a positive, if not painful, lesson that results in better prosecutions of individuals in the future under the FCPA. As for the defendants, I hope the healing process  is a swift one and that they get back to their normal lives in the very near future.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not comment on the tireless and spirited effort by the defense counsel from all over the country who came here to try these very lengthy and complicated cases under difficult circumstances and some even pro bono. Their hard work and effective advocacy are a testament to how strong our criminal defense Bar is nationwide.

And so without further adieu [sic] I grant the government’s motion to dismiss. The defendants are excused. And I will set hearings in the near future to determine the status of those cases where guilty pleas have already been entered.

As mentioned above, the judge later vacated the guilty pleas of the three defendants who’d pled to a conspiracy count. And he slammed the cooperating informant, Richard Bistrong, with a more serious sentence than anyone had requested. But as you can see, the judge, a former Department of Justice official and one with great sympathy for the prosecutor’s task, knew at the outset that the case was no good; but it still destroyed dozens of lives, and even coerced guilty pleas out of three innocent men.

This is what happens to you if you come to the attention of today’s Federal enforcers.

None of the prosecutors or agents involved in this attempted frame job were disciplined in any way. In fact, many have been promoted despite their misconduct in this case. They are not ever held accountable; much like Hammurabi’s Code had “different spanks for different ranks,” so do our laws today, at least “as implemented”. The Founders saw these kinds of blanket immunity as a feature of patents of nobility; didn’t they say something about that in some document or other?

SF Chronicle: Hey, this guy Yee was a crook all along?

Yee-Hah-haThat’s the press for you: sucking-up to the comfortable and grinding the faces of the afflicted in the dirt. Consider the case of gun-control-poster-child Leland Y. Yee, who had a secret identity worthy of some comic book chump in homoerotic tights: Mighty Yee, the International Arms Merchant.

Yee was against anyone owning dangerous weapons of mass destruction — who didn’t give him money.

Now the San Francisco Chronicle spent years tongue-bathing Yee in gauzy profiles and airy puff pieces, accompanied by photographs with the equivalent of Vaseline on the lens. With Yee jammed up, the Chron lost its love for Yee faster than a fickle teenybopper changing pop stars. Now it did something it never bothered to do during Yee’s years as a top legislator: it broke out the roll call reports and compared his votes, his stated positions, and his reported cash contributions. Principle, it turns out, is a great motivator until a dollar is laid against it. From the article:

Sifting through the layers of alleged criminality in a years-long FBI probe that ensnared Yee, notorious Chinatown gangster Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow and 24 others last week, the picture that emerges of Yee in a 137-page FBI affidavit is not the sleeves-rolled-up, 65-year-old Democrat with a knack for retail politics that Yee projected.

Instead, it’s of a man driven by money who was willing to skirt campaign finance laws, collect cash for meetings, trade political favors for donations, and even promise to facilitate an international arms deal worth up to $2.5 million. Now, a Chronicle review of his votes and campaign donations shows that money might have influenced many of his votes in the Legislature, too.

“When you read the (FBI) transcript, it’s pay-to-play politics at its worst,” said David Lee, a San Francisco State University political science instructor and executive director of the nonpartisan Chinese American Voters Education Committee. “It also speaks to someone who was desperate to hold onto power at any cost.”

Gun control advocate

Yee, a gun control advocate and outspoken critic of violent video games, was charged with conspiring to traffic in firearms and six counts of scheming to defraud citizens by allegedly trading political favors for campaign donations to pay off a $70,000 campaign debt from the mayor’s race and finance his now-abandoned run for secretary of state.

Controversy has dogged Yee since soon after he was elected to the San Francisco school board in 1988, but how far back his alleged practice of trading political action for money reaches is unclear.

The Chronicle review of his voting record in the Legislature, where he is currently in his 12th year, shows more than 30 instances dating back to 2003 where he cast votes that were arguably counter to his stated positions or the interests of his constituents in San Francisco and San Mateo counties, and then received large campaign contributions from the industries that benefited. Those included chemical, oil and insurance companies, campaign contribution records show.

via Linking Calif. Sen. Yee’s voting record to major donations – San Francisco Chronicle.

Now these ink-stained ward captains for The Party discover records that support the proposition that Yee would be anybody’s BFF, as long as they kept dropping coins into his slot. Records showing this behavior going back to 2003, and maybe as far as 1988.

Records that the Chronicle could have looked at at any time during Yee’s 25-year influential career. And they did, now, as soon as they finally developed some curiosity about him.

After all he was just one of the most important politicians in the city who’s name is on their newspaper masthead even today. Why would they be curious about that?

America-hating Piers Morgan signs off with gun-control screed

History repeats.

History repeats.

Supercilious Brit Piers Morgan, who escaped from England with the hounds of Scotland Yard on his heels for his participation in the wiretapping culture of England’s crude lower-class tabloid press, finally came to the point of his last show.

Far from regretting his show’s cancellation, due to abysmally low ratings driven in some part by his doomed anti-gun crusade, Morgan doubled down on loathing for America and its gun culture during his last report.

[T]hat’s where I think guns belong – on a military battlefield, in the hands of highly trained men and women fighting for democracy and freedom. Not in the hands of civilians. The scourge of gun violence is a disease that now infects every aspect of American life.  Each day, on average, 35 people in this country are murdered with guns, another 50 kill themselves with guns, and 200 more are shot but survive. That’s 100,000 people a year hit by gunfire in America.

Now, I assumed that after 70 people were shot in a movie theater, and then, just a few months later, 20 first-graders were murdered with an assault rifle in an elementary school, that the absurd gun laws in this country would change. But nothing has happened. The gun lobby in America, led by the NRA, has bullied this nation’s politicians into cowardly, supine silence. Even when 20 young children are blown away in their classrooms.

This is a shameful situation that frankly has made me very angry. So angry, in fact, that some people have criticized me for being too loud, opinionated, even rude when I have debated the issue of guns. But I make no apologies for that.

via Piers Morgan | final show | gun control | NRA.

This is the third sacking for Morgan, if we’re counting correctly. Once for running a hoax impugning the British Army, once for the wiretapping scandal (the paper he helmed actually went out of business), and third time, at CNN, may be for keeps.

During his swan song, Morgan whined that he really would love America, if it would just be more like Britain on the gun issue. Well, we’d love you too, if you’d be more like Marcel Marceau and shut your pie hole.

Meanwhile, why not go back to Britain and face the music for your tabloid career of bugging celebrities’ phones? (In our country that’s a felony, unless — unfortunately — it’s the NSA doing it. We’re guessing that tapping Paul McCartney’s ex’s phone, as Morgan admitted doing, was a felony over there, too. Reporters working for him also bugged the Royal Family). So head on back to Britain, Piers. We’re sure they have a cozy new situation for you. Maybe we’ll come see you at the appropriate time.

CNN’s replacement for Morgan will have higher ratings, even if it’s this:

CNN Soviet Test Pattern(Soviet “Tablitsa 249″ test pattern, circa 1970, a knock-off of a 1950s Telefunken test pattern).

Update: TV personality Dana Loesch called for a Piers Morgan Range Day today. Many tweeted their own participation. Heh.

Yee-Haw. Haw-haw-haw-haw.

The forgotten TV show Hee-Haw was a Hollywood idea of the entertainment country hayseeds might like, and its symbol was a braying jackass. “Yee-Haw” is what we call all the schadenfreude about the indictment of San Francisco anti-gun extremist, and simultaneously, wannabe gun-runner Leland Y. Yee. There’s this, from Yee’s onetime punchbag, the CalGuns Foundation:


Heh. And then there’s the mock business card that’s going around:


The funniest bit of that: it’s all basically true, at least if we believe the 137-page criminal complaint. There are some gems in there, too.

One of the Chinese Tongs with which Yee appears to be associated is named… Hop Sing. We are not making this up, it’s on page 4 of the complaint. There’s also a Hop Sing gang with some 300 members which is different from the Hop Sing Tong, which is different from the Triads, but the Venn diagrams seem to overlap a lot. Reading this stuff is like being ripped out of one’s comfortable country life and deposited into the middle of a Hong Kong Kung-fu movie. Hiiyaaah! (Whack!)

Yee’s money launderer in the conspiracy, one Kevin Siu aka Dragon Tin Loong Siu, has a criminal record — for prostitution. Well, it is San Francisco. Our take: he’ll be the guy who flips and cooperated. After all, it’s not very far from selling his @$$ to make money for Yee to selling out Yee to save his @$$.

What’s with the Dragon thing anyway? Is it a Bruce Lee thing, or a throwback to the KKK?

While some of the charged conspirators, like Yee, had no priors, quite a number of them have long records, and several are now charged as felons in possesson of firearms.

One of the charged individuals, Raymond Chow, admitted to shipping military-grade tungsten from the US to China, in addition to all the weapons-smuggling (most of which was promises to get military weapons from overseas for Domestic moslem terrorists) and money-laundering.




Bradley Manning is Appealing

Bradley Manning Support NetworkNo, not as a guy dressed in drag. (The mistaken pronouns in the excerpt from Politico hack Tal Kopan below have been corrected; as long as he’s got a Y Chromosome, let along male reproductive tackle, he’s a guy, and Leavenworth isn’t going to schedule his whackadickoffomy any time soon). He’s appealing his conviction, because he’s all confused and suchlike.

Other than that, he’s enjoying life in prison. Some places, a guy who wants to be a girl is guaranteed a certain popularity.

The inept Kopan, who seems not to have registered the outcome of the trial and the terms of Manning’s sentence, also refers to the prisoner as PFC Manning, although he, she or it (Kopan, whose sex we don’t know) gets his, her or its (Manning’s, whose sex we know but Manning doesn’t) abbreviation as well as rank wrong. For you see, Manning is not a PFC, having been reduced to the lowest enlisted grade as a result of his court-martial conviction and sentence. This is an important distinction, for a Private First Class (Lance Corporal to you Marines) is a private who has served sufficiently honorably to be advanced a couple of times. Still a pawn, perhaps, but a pawn at K4 now. And that is not Manning, who once made the exalted grade of Specialist 4th Class (Sp/4; the grade is an artifact of the 1960s and there is no other class of specialist) before persistent and durative misconduct plucked his small achievements away and landed him where he belongs, in prison, penniless except for the donations of useful idiots.

"Position of humility, march!"

“Position of humility, march!”

Writing a message to supporters from prison, Pfc. [sic] Bradley Manning announced a new team of lawyers for his appeals process, saying they are prepared to take his case to the Supreme Court if necessary.

The email, dated March 17 and distributed by the Pvt. Manning Support Network, includes a number of fundraising appeals alongside the personal message signed by Bradley Manning.

Manning said he has hired Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward of the law firm Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward of Albuquerque, N.M., in preparation for an appeals process, with help from the Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network.

“I’ve spoken a few times with both Ms. Hollander and Mr. Ward over the phone and I met them in person last month. I feel they are a perfect fit for doing this case, and we’re all excited about working together,” Manning wrote. “Both Ms. Hollander and Mr. Ward have achieved successes in complex, high profile, civil and criminal cases in the past, fighting to protect the U.S. Constitution, civil liberties, and social justice through work on Guantanamo, the Gulf Coast Oil Spill, and more. They are eager to represent me before the military court, federal court, and perhaps even the Supreme Court.”

Sure, because freedom for traitors is an important part of social justice. And lawyers are just selfless, noble social justicitians, not parasitical termites gnawing at the very joists and uprights of society, right?

Is there anybody who does not hear “social justice” and reach for a revolver? Well, us, but that’s just because we have an AR-10 handy.

Manning also thanked supporters for their attention and fundraising efforts, updating them on his life behind bars. The Army private, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison by a military judge last summer for leaking thousands of pages of government documents to WikiLeaks, said the he is spending most of his time exercising and doing legal research.

via Under the Radar Blog: Josh Gerstein on the Courts, Transparency, & More –

So in 34 years or so we can expect a bulked-up and haggard middle-aged Manning to emerge from the pokey, in pink makeup, a little black dress, and stiletto heels. Still with outie rather than innie genitals and that intractable Y Chromosome, although, who knows what’ll be medically possible by 2048? And his prison pen pals will be waiting for him, probably in an old Chrysler.

And in the meantime, hippies, dopers, no-hopers and the sexually confounded can sink their disposable funds into his legal assistance fund, thereby squandering money they might actually have done some ill with. So there’s a silver lining in the cloud, just not for Bradley.

Sorry about that.

Rick Shinseki’s Bad Week

VA-veterans-affairsRick Shinseki is the ineffectual and unsatisfactory Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. He’s been in Congress a lot the last couple of weeks, and he’s pretty much been a punchbag for both Senators and Congressmen, and both Democrats and Republicans, because of various mis-, mal-, and non-feasance on his watch. So last week was a pretty bad week for ol’ Rick.

It isn’t the scandals so much as the parade of VA bigs lying about them that has the pols’ noses out of joint. It’s impossible to list everything the VA has screwed up lately, but here’s a few high points.

  • The VA has a budget of $164 Billionbut can’t begin to account for where it all goes. Hang on, you’re going to see a couple of the places the money gets spent. Hint: not on veterans.
  • About $100 million a year, and increasing, goes to paying malpractice settlements and judgments from substandard VA care that leaves vets crippled or dead. This wastage is almost $1 billion over the last 10 years.
  • Rep David Scott (R-GA) has asked Shinseki to resign (he got the F U) and has asked President Obama to fire him (same reply). After a VA hospital in Scott’s Atlanta district bungled three patients to death, the VA leaked that: heads had rolled; a menu of 19 changes had been implemented; and Shinseki had taken personal charge. But it was all bullshit. No one was actually fired (we’ll see that again), the VA’s own IG found the Atlanta VA Medical Center blew off 12 of the 19 reforms, and Shinseki still has never even visited the place.
  • VA Undersecretary for Health Dr Robert Petzel last year told the House, in compelled, hostile and truculent testimony, that those responsible for patient deaths had ducked accountability for them by resigning. But Petzel lied. At least one of the doctors who denied cancer patients diagnostic treatments is still being paid his roughly $300k salary. Petzel also lied about what the IG found.

Petzel told Congress:

The IG did not link any deaths to the activity at Atlanta. There were three mental health deaths, but the IG made no comment in their report on the quality of care that was delivered to them or the course of action.

But the IG actually wrote:

We substantiated that staff’s failure to ‘watch’ patients may have contributed to the subject patient’s death … Our review also confirmed that facility managers did not provide adequate staff, training, resources, support, or guidance for effective oversight of the contracted MH program.

Which is a direct contradiction.

  • Inept planning meant a new VA hospital in North Las Vegas, completed in 2012 for over $1 Billion, had a substandard and inadequate emergency room. Tens of millions more are being spent to rebuild and enlarge the two-year-old ER. The VA knew all along it was too small, but figured they could just spend more and fix it later. That’s not the only problem with the facility, a model to the VA’s Soviet-style central planning: the dialysis center puts patients in blind spots where nurses can’t observe them, and a planned long-term-care facility never opened because it’s been co-opted for use as administrative offices by the VA’s ever-metastasizing bureaucracy. Shinseki had no answers for the lawmakers on the VA hospital.
  • Even something as simple as making a legally-mandated list of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan exposed to burn-pit fumes has proven to be beyond the agency — and it hasn’t bothered to explain why that is (if its leaders even know). This produced another bipartisan letter from Congress, to be binned at Shinseki’s leisure.
  • Shinseki “solved” the problems of Gulf War illnesses — which, to be sure, are often a portmanteau into which activists and veterans throw the normal bad news of the actuarial tables — by packing the Research Advisory Committee on same with yes-men and toadies. That move too has generated bipartisan Congressional backlash.
  • Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN) is at odds with Shinseki over a Tennessee VA employee who blew his claims-review job off and didn’t even go to work while soaking up $140k in salary. Shinseki promoted the no-show Joe, one Richard Moore, and transferred him to headquarters (which probably increased the mean integrity of the VA’s offices in both TN and DC). When the story made the papers, Moore was “suspended,” but with pay — in other words, further rewarded with a paid vacation.

So, if they’re not managing their basic function of health care worth a damn, what is the VA doing? Bidding on a Department of Defense IT contract, in hopes of turning their supposed expertise into a profit center for the VA. We are not making this up.

Oh, but they want $900 million for this among other IT projects. We’re not making that up, either.

What an ATF set-up looks like


Thomas Michael Barrett, Jailhouse lawyer (literally).

Hot tip: if some scroungy guy offers to sell you guns out of his trunk, he’s probably one of “ATF’s Finest” — a criminal working with the agency to make new first-time felons. A Wisconsin man is now about to be a literal jailhouse lawyer because he didn’t listen to his own sense that there was “something funny” about the convicted drug dealer who was insisting he buy the guns.

A jury found a Wauwatosa lawyer guilty Friday of buying what he called “a hit man’s gun” with a “highly, highly, highly illegal” silencer during an undercover reverse sting in 2011.

Thomas Michael Barrett had been set up by a convicted drug dealer who was trying to earn a break on his sentencing in federal court. But despite his own testimony that he sensed something was funny about a meeting for the possible sale, Barrett paid the informant — a man he’d never met — $400 for two handguns and the silencer.

He was arrested moments later in the parking lot of Mayfair mall in Wauwatosa, where the whole transaction was recorded on surveillance video and audio.

Before this week’s trial, Barrett had mounted a vigorous, though unsuccessful, defense of the charge focused on a claim that the state’s law against silencers infringes on the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The informant, Michael Bond, also recorded his initial phone calls to Barrett, saying an acquaintance, a former client of Barrett’s, had said he might be interested in buying some pistols.

Though Bond said one gun had a silencer, Barrett testified he did not believe Bond, and that even when he saw the gun and silencer in Bond’s trunk and commented on its illegality, he could not be positive the item was a real silencer.

Barrett, 54, said he became fearful of Bond at the parking lot meeting, because Bond was so insistent that Barrett buy both guns and the silencer — Barrett first offered to buy the one gun without a silencer.

Barrett said he knew he could turn in an illegal silencer to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and said that’s what he had in mind when he told Bond he could help him dispose of the item.

But when he was arrested, Barrett already had put the silencer in a separate lock box in his own car and made police get a search warrant to open it.

Barrett faces up to three years in prison at his sentencing April 18 in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

Bond’s sentencing in the federal drug smuggling case is set for next month. Many records regarding his case are under seal.

via Milwaukee County jury convicts lawyer of having illegal gun silencer.

This is what a win looks like to ATF:

  1. a formerly law-abiding man who was, when solicited, willing to bend the law is behind bars,
  2. a violent drug dealer who should be behind bars is out free, and
  3. another statistic for the ATF and the USAO.

And this time they didn’t even need to go full retard (the agents in this case are the same ones who ran a gunwalking storefront near a middle school, and managed to bag no crime guns, but some retarded guys they were able to entice into making illegal sales).

And this is what a set-up looks like from the victim (ATF would say criminal) point of view.  Somebody new in your life (or someone in your life who has been trending towards the sketchy) is offering you contraband. If you’re not interested, he or she won’t take a polite “no.” As the same issue keeps cropping back up, despite your efforts to dismiss it, this person is pushy, even insistent. That’s because the ATF has the informer over a barrel, and can apply hammer and tongs if said informer doesn’t produce someone the ATF wants more.

Note also that the case files remain under seal: this is probably because the ATF is still using the informer. They will keep using him as long as he can be effective; someone can earn a six-figure income for years if he can keep producing felons for the ATF.

This is also a pretty good reason not to be a lawyer. First, being a lawyer means you’re always going to be up to your ears in people with problems. Second, for many lawyers, the people with problems will be real-live criminals. Nobody is a more natural informant than a criminal, since by profession they come pre-compromised, and by character they’re often the polar opposite of models of integrity.

Should such a situation appear to you, you need to take the hard way out, not the seemingly-easy way Thomas Barrett did. Or you’ll wind up like him: following an easy path to doing hard time.

Corrupt State Trooper back on payroll at Corrections

Rats-Behind-BarsWell, you could say that he knows prison, but that’s not correct: his sentence for bribe-taking was all suspended, so he’s never seen the inside of a jail. He didn’t even have to forfeit the bribe money, let alone spend time in the Big House.

And he won’t be inside in this job, either, a prison spokesman is at pains to explain. They have him on administrative duties.

What kind of duties would you assign a convicted corrupt cop? They have set this guy to collecting money. It would be interesting to learn whose nephew he is.

A New Hampshire State Police trooper forced to give up his law enforcer career following a 2010 conviction for tampering with vehicle examination reports made a soft landing in the state corrections department, where he works as a civilian collecting court-ordered fees.

Lawrence A. Fredette III of Meredith was hired in May 2012 as a case technician level 2, state Department of Corrections spokesman Jeffrey J. Lyons said this week.

Fredette, who earns $29,094 annually, is responsible for collecting any restitution, fines or fees the court orders a convicted defendant to pay, then ensuring the money is distributed to the designated party, Lyons said.

Fredette, who was forced to surrender his law enforcement certification and resign from the New Hampshire State Police following his 2010 conviction, works as a civilian at the division of field services, which is located at the state Corrections Commissioner’s administrative office at 105 Pleasant St., Lyons said.

“He never goes to the prison. There is no reason for him to. It is basically a desk job. They send out bills and make phone calls to people who owe money,” Lyons said.

Fredette was convicted and sentenced June 10, 2010, in Concord District Court on three counts of tempering with public records while he inspected commercial licenses at New Hampshire State Police Troop G Barracks – Commercial Vehicle Enforcement.

A state police investigation revealed he submitted 15 fictitious driver-vehicle examination reports.

Fredette was sentenced to 90 days at Merrimack County House of Corrections, all suspended for six months. In addition, he had to complete 20 hours of community service and pay $260 in restitution to the state.

Fredette applied for one of three case technician positions available with the state corrections department in 2011, Lyons said. He was one of three applicants who applied and was hired, Lyons said.

via Former NH state trooper gets new state job after 2010 conviction | New Hampshire News.

This is how the System works if you’re Connected. They’ll hire you back to handle money, after you get caught stealing money.

Look, the guy is a crook, not a monster. He didn’t whack anybody (not even a dog) and he didn’t bugger any kids. Maybe he just couldn’t handle the temptation of the power of holding those truck drivers’ livings in his hands (he was apparently assigned to do something with respect to commercial vehicle drivers’ licensing). He probably deserves a chance to go straight and support himself and any family he has.

But there’s something seriously wrong with him being in a position that handles money returns, even if they’re noncash. After all, he managed the illicit monetization of drivers’ licenses once. And it looks to us that the reason he’s back as a payroll patriot “on the state” as they put it, is because despite his betrayal of the public trust as a state police officer, his pension, which he did not earn by honest effort, is intact and he can grow it by continuing the suckle on the public teat.

It’s hyperbole to say that’s as wrong as murder, or buggery for that matter, but it seems rather self-evident that it’s wrong in an absolute sense.

Apparently, their other line of defense is this bit of alarming logic: nobody honest applied for the job, so they had to take the crook. If you needed any more proof that government agencies do not run like a business, there it is.

ATF Agent Fails Background Check

ATF BadgeFitchburg, Massachusetts, is a crumbling mill town in the northern end of mid-state Worcester County. The two biggest “employers” in the city are probably Fitchburg State College, a former teachers’ college with university aspirations (where, to be sure, a working- or middle-class student can get a functional education at a reasonable price), and welfare. As in every town with a lot of AFDC/SSDI/Section8 scammery going on, the welfare safey net supports a broad and deep criminal underclass, kept numb on drugs sourced through burglary, auto theft, robbery, prostitution, and various other crimes the MA criminal courts don’t take very seriously.

But since this is Massachusetts, the welfare is seen as an unalloyed good, the drugs seen as not very serious, and the violent crime problem (which isn’t really all that bad, and has been declining, except for youth gang activity tied to immigrant gangs) is blamed on the fact that people in other states still have gun rights that Massachusetts citizens have forfeit.

So, in extreme anti-gun Massachusetts, it made sense to name an ATF Agent to the vacant Police Chief position. The three finalists were all from anti-gun agencies: Chicago PD, NYPD, and ATF. And Mayor Lisa Wong picked the ATF guy,  one Scott Heagney, RAIC in ATF’s Rochester, NY office — but couldn’t get him through a background check. D’oh!

Mayor Lisa A. Wong has withdrawn her nomination of U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agent Scott Heagney for the position of police chief.

Ms. Wong made the announcement to city councilors in an email Tuesday afternoon.

“The nomination was subject to the execution of a contract and a background check, both of which have been suspended,” the email said. “At this time, I believe the best course of action for the city to take is to re-advertise the position.”

Earlier Tuesday, City Clerk Anna M. Farrell notified councilors the special meeting scheduled Thursday to confirm Mr. Heagney’s appointment had been canceled.

Ms. Wong would not say why she made the decision.

She said she initially postponed Mr. Heagney’s confirmation because she was not able to complete a background check on him and later “chose not to try.”

via Fitchburg mayor withdraws her nomination for police chief – Worcester Telegram & Gazette –

Another local paper (not linked because the page has Undertone malware on it) indicates that Wong is being very coy about exactly why Heagney was rejected. He had already been offered the job, and had accepted and changed his LinkedIn profile (he has since changed it back).

That’s OK, though, because Heagney is still on the job with ATF in Rochester.

“I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment on a process that I’ve already decided is over and (appropriate) to proceed with moving forward,” Wong said Tuesday night. “It’s a very important position. We have big shoes to fill, so I think I’m going to concentrate on the task at hand.”

She said she was “not at liberty to discuss” what led to her decision.

Earlier Tuesday, following the announcement of the cancellation of the Thursday meetings where Heagney was to meet the full City Council for the first time, Wong had said she was waiting for some background-check information to come from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Heagney works as resident agent-in-charge of the agency’s Rochester, N.Y., field office.

She said that particular background information was not received Tuesday, but it appeared other information had been obtained.

“Background checks are pretty thorough, so we’ve been getting lots and lots of information throughout the day, every day,” Wong said. “At some point, I made a decision to not move forward.”

“The nomination was subject to the execution of a contract and background check, both of which have been suspended,” Wong wrote in a late Tuesday afternoon email to city councilors, employees and the press. “At this time, I believe the best course of action for the city to take is to re-advertise the position.”

It does sound like Wong is a pretty flighty person here. There’s one other clue at the Sentinel and Enterprise (the paper with the malware):

A letter from an anonymous resident of Attleboro, who was very critical of Heagney and his brother, who is Attleboro’s police chief, was sent to Wong, the City Council and the Sentinel & Enterprise. Wong acknowledged receipt of the letter and said it played no part in her decision.

We doubt any city ever took note of an anonymous letter on a police search. However, that did give us a clue to check the board for Heagney information. It turns out that Scott Heagney’s brother, the Chief in Attleboro, MA (which is down near the Rhode Island border) is a bitter opponent of civilian gun use, and throws many obstacles in the way of LTC applicants. Of course, one brother may well differ politically and in policy preferences from another. 

Note to the reader: we normally try to link all quotes, but if a page has Undertone or other intrusive malware on it, we won’t.