Patterico's Pontifications

6/1/2007

Don’t Stop Thinking About “Tommorrow”

Filed under: 2008 Election,General,Humor — Patterico @ 5:49 am

The picture says it all. (H/t Hot Air.)

tommorrow.jpg

Air Marshal Goes on the Record Stating His Opinion That Flight 327 Was a Dry Run

Filed under: Air Security,General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 12:10 am

As most of you know, Audrey Hudson recently ran a piece in the Washington Times stating that current and former air marshals believed that Flight 327 (Annie Jacobsen’s “Terror in the Skies” flight) was a terrorist dry run. Some of my commenters complained that Ms. Hudson did not support this claim with a quote from a current air marshal, saying unequivocally that he thought Flight 327 was a terrorist dry run.

Today, in this post, current air marshal P. Jeffrey Black does exactly that.

Mr. Black is one of the current air marshals quoted in Ms. Hudson’s article:

Agency management was not only covering up numerous probes and dry-run encounters from Congress and other federal law-enforcement agencies, it was also hiding these incidents from their own flying air marshals,” said P. Jeffrey Black, an air marshal stationed in Las Vegas.

When Mr. Black talked about these “numerous probes and dry-run encounters,” did he mean to include Flight 327 in that description, as Ms. Hudson had implied? I asked him, and he responded with a long and interesting statement, which is reproduced below in its entirety, with Mr. Black’s permission. All emphasis and links are his:

Patterico,

I’d be happy to address a few of the questions submitted by your readers in regards to matters of public safety and concern.

Last year, I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain a copy of the Flight 327 Inspector General’s report about the same time The Washington Times filed their FOIA request. Last week, I received my copy of the report, so yes, I have obviously reviewed the report extensively.

Do I personally believe flight 327 was a terrorist probe or dry run?

In my opinion, and based upon my experience flying hundreds of missions since 9/11, my answer is, yes it was. Do I know 100% for sure? No, of course not. Short of obtaining signed confessions from all 13 Syrian “musicians” involved, only they know for sure what their true intentions were for acting so “suspicious” during the flight. And this is exactly why the Inspector General’s report doesn’t conclude, without a doubt, that their actions were positively construed as a probe or dry run. The only people who know this for sure were allowed to freely leave the country and fly back to Syria without ever being thoroughly interrogated. And remember, a third of the Inspector General’s report is still highly redacted.

Nevertheless, many air marshal collegues I have spoken with concur with my conclusion, but don’t expect them to go public any time soon. Every air marshal that has whistleblown publicly so far has been summarily terminated one way or another. It is just a matter of time before I receive my retaliatory pink slip. I am sure there are TSA/FAMS management bureaucrats in a basement somewhere at this very moment, scheming and drawing up battle plans to attack my character and veracity. I wouldn’t expect anything less from the Transportation Security Administration.

What I do find most disturbing is that some of your readers tend to discredit the word or opinion of any Federal Air Marshal who has been terminated from the Transportation Security Administration –– for whistleblowing. Former air marshal Robert MacLean was terminated for exposing to the public a dangerous TSA/FAMS policy which removed air marshals from all cross country flights –– similar to those flights hijacked on 9/11 –– because the TSA wanted to save money by not having to pay for hotel rooms for the over-nighting of air marshals. Mr. MacLean was a former distinguished Border Patrol Agent who graduated from the very first air marshal academy class soon after the events of 9/11, and has flown more missions than most air marshals still flying today.

The public should be embracing Mr. MacLean’s ideas and opinions, and not unjustly ridiculing and labeling him as just some “disgruntled fired employee”. As all whistleblowers ultimately end up doing, Mr. MacLean sacrificed his federal career to inform the public of a government policy that seriously endangered the lives of the traveling public. Taking into account the amount of retribution and retaliation he has received from TSA for his whistleblowing activities –– he has every right to be disgruntled.

I know this first hand. In August of 2004, and just two months after the events of Northwest Flight 327, I reluctantly chose to become a whistleblower. The dangerous agency internal policies I wished to expose were so egregious, which seriously jeopardized the health and safety of every air marshal, flight crew member, and passenger, that I chose to take my disclosures straight to Congress. I gave testimony to the Chief Counsel of Oversight and Investigations, and went on the record with the House Judiciary Committee, that I had personally experienced what I believed to be numerous probing incidents aboard domestic flights, and that I believed the Federal Air Marshal Service was not only hiding the details to these incidents from other federal law enforcement agencies, but that they were also keeping this vital information from their own flying air marshals. I also had reason to believe, from speaking to other air marshals across the country, that I was not the only air marshal experiencing these probing incidents aboard domestic flights.

My testimony specifically outlined exactly what I had experienced on my mission flights –– and the Committee staffers were shocked at what they heard. In response to my testimony, in addition to other information it had received from other sources, the House Judiciary Committee just four weeks later, sent FAMS Director Thomas Quinn, a seven page letter questioning not only the number of probes air marshals had been allegedly experiencing, but also in regards to numerous other internal policies I had informed the Committee about, that were additionally endangering the flying public. Some of these other dangerous policies included: forcing air marshals to adhere to a formal dress code, substandard procedures for air marshals bypassing security checkpoints, forcing air marshals to conspicuously board aircraft in full view of waiting passengers, and requiring air marshals to use over-powered non-frangible ammunition aboard aircraft.

After numerous delays, in October of 2004, the Federal Air Marshal Service finally submitted a 29-page letter responding to the questions raised by the House Judiciary Committee. In May of 2006, the Committee concluded their inquiry and released their Investigative Report entitled “In Plane Sight” (highly redacted).

Numerous federal air marshals, pilots, flight attendants, passengers, and terrorism experts, all believe in their humble opinions, that Northwest Flight 327 was in fact a terrorist probe or dry run. Yet, the management and bureaucratic “experts” in the Transportation Security Administration and in the upper echelon of the Federal Air Marshal Service, who lack any prior aviation security experience whatsoever, tell you that it was nothing more than a few innocent tourist musicians with expired visas, visiting from a terrorist sponsoring country, and who were doing nothing more than acting a bit “suspicious”.

So what is the moral of this story? Never depend on your government to save your life. It is the public citizen who is our first line of defense –– the John Does –– not the federal government. Stay vigilant.

Best Regards,

P. Jeffrey Black

L.A. Times Praises Gang Crackdown for Preventing Dozens of Murders — The Same Gang Crackdown the L.A. Times Criticized Two Months Ago

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:07 am

The L.A. Times has an article titled Gang homicides down, LAPD says:

Nearly six months into the LAPD’s crackdown on gang violence, the number of gang-related homicides in Los Angeles dropped 32%, mirroring an overall decline in violent crime across the city, according to police figures released today.

The Los Angeles Police Department recorded 79 gang-related killings as of last week, compared to 117 during the same period last year. The plunge in gang killings fueled a 24% drop in overall homicides, the statistics showed.

That’s 38 fewer homicides — attributable, apparently, to a crackdown on gang members:

Officials today hailed the numbers as a sign that an offensive against gangs, launched in January by the LAPD, FBI and other law enforcement agencies, is having an effect. The crackdown was a response to a 15% increase in gang-related crimes in 2006.

In response, the LAPD shifted more police officers into neighborhoods with large concentrations of gang members, aimed at targeting 11 gangs they considered the worst. The FBI and L.A. city attorney’s office have also targeted several gangs that have been accused of racially motivated violence.

But what was the L.A. Times saying about this gang crackdown just two months ago? I remember. Do you?

For those with short memories — a group that apparently includes Times editors — here’s a little reminder.

On March 29, 2007, the L.A. Times offered a editorial disguised as a news article, filled with handwringing over the dictatorial and oppressive crackdown on gangs. The story was titled L.A. gang prosecutions called overzealous, and began:

As the city’s war on street gangs continues to unfold, Los Angeles defense attorneys are protesting what they see as overzealous prosecutions that seek enhanced jail time for suspects swept up by police for nonviolent crime.

Cases that might have been charged as misdemeanors are being filed as felonies with enhancements that increase penalties and put bail out of reach, defense lawyers say.

In some cases, judges have agreed, rebuking prosecutors by throwing out excessive charges against alleged gang members.

Robert Kalunian, chief deputy public defender for Los Angeles County, said defense attorneys are seeing a lot of aggressive prosecutions for relatively minor crimes such as vandalism and petty theft because the suspect is an alleged gang member.

“There are a lot of problems with enhanced prosecution of gang members,” Kalunian said. “We are spending a considerable amount of resources on cases that are not the crime of the century.”

The story appeared especially concerned with the idea of prosecuting gang members to the fullest extent of the law for relatively minor crimes:

“Overcharging is counterproductive,” ACLU attorney Peter Bibring said. “When one community’s kids are going to jail for extended periods of time, while another community’s kids are getting probation or time served for the same crimes, its hard for the community to see law enforcement as an ally.”

Police Chief William J. Bratton announced a crackdown on gangs in January in response to a 15.7% increase in gang crime last year in Los Angeles. Fifty-six percent of the 478 homicides in 2006 were gang-related.

Since then, gang enforcement officers have made more than 800 arrests, including 392 members of 11 gangs identified by the chief as the worst in the city.

However, many of those arrests have been for nonviolent crimes, including probation violation, drug possession, curfew violation and vandalism.

By using laws that allow longer jail and prison sentences if nonviolent crimes are committed to benefit a gang, police and prosecutors are keeping alleged gang members off the streets longer.

Kalunian questioned the pressure on nonviolent offenders.

“That’s always a danger when there is a politically hot crime, particularly on something as amorphous as gang prosecution,” Kalunian said. “The focus ought to be on serious violent offenses.”

Apparently, the ACLU, defense attorneys, and the L.A. Times wanted law enforcement to wait for gang members to commit violent crimes, before using available laws to get them off the streets for more minor crimes.

I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t listen. 38 fewer murder victims would probably agree, if you asked them.

“Deport the Criminals First” — Part Three of an Ongoing Series: The Death of Four-Year-Old Angel Avendano

Filed under: Deport the Criminals First,General,Immigration — Patterico @ 12:05 am

[“Deport the Criminals First” is a recurring feature on this blog, highlighting crimes committed by illegal immigrants — with a special focus on repeat offenders. I argue that, instead of arresting illegal immigrants who work hard for a living, we should use our limited immigration enforcement resources to target illegal immigrants who commit crimes in this country — especially violent crimes.]

From the Las Vegas Sun, January 12, 2005:

A man was convicted Tuesday of being drunk and on drugs when he crashed his truck into a Las Vegas bus stop, killing a 4-year-old boy and hospitalizing the child’s mother.

It took a Clark County jury less than two hours to find Nicolas Serrano-Villagrana guilty of three counts of felony DUI causing substantial bodily harm and/or death for the May crash that killed Angel Avendano and left the boy’s 32-year-old mother, Eulogia Avendano, and a second woman, Nijailia Altitijka Graves, with injuries.

. . . .

Serrano-Villagrana’s attorney, Philip Singer, at trial conceded Serrano-Villagrana had a blood-alcohol content of 0.20 percent — 2.5 times the legal limit in Nevada — and he had cocaine in his system at the time of the crash on Eastern Avenue near U.S. 95.

Serrano-Villagrana was an illegal alien with previous drunk-driving convictions. If federal authorities had followed my advice to “deport the criminals first,” Serrano-Villagrana would have been identified on one of these previous occasions, and would have been deported after serving his sentence.

And Angel Avendano would still be alive.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal asks the obvious question:

[Quote deleted. I will not quote thugs. — P]

I can’t do better than the editors did at expressing outrage, so I’ll give them the final word:

[Quote deleted. I will not quote thugs. — P]


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