Patterico's Pontifications


Oklahoma City Anniversary

Filed under: Terrorism — DRJ @ 10:41 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The attack killed 168 innocent victims, including 19 children, and injured hundreds more.

Monday night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow aired “The McVeigh Tapes” that reportedly include audio of McVeigh’s confession. Tulsa World provides this excerpt:

“Lou Michel recalls without hesitation the moment on a May day in 1999 when Timothy McVeigh delivered a soliloquy so dark, so chilling that the hair rose on the back of the veteran reporter’s neck.

Caught in the act of being himself, nothing else McVeigh would say during a 45-hour confession matched that moment for defining America’s worst mass murderer.

“I’ve heard your stories many times before,” McVeigh began, as if speaking directly to the survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing rather than into the tape recorder of his biographer.

“The specific details may be unique, but the truth is you’re not the first mother to lose her kid. You’re not the first grandparent to lose a granddaughter or a grandson. I’ll use the phrase…and it may sound cold but…it’s the truth: Get over it.”

McVeigh’s voice isn’t the only one heard:

“Credit union worker Patti Hall describes her crushed body, the 16 surgeries and re-learning how to walk and to talk.

Susan Urbach shows the scars on her face and recalls the 4 feet of stitches she needed after her window shattered in the Journal Record Building across the street from the Murrah.

Jannie Coverdale speaks of her two grandsons lost in the second-floor day care; Aaron would be 20 now, and Elijah, 17.

She speaks of “screaming at God,” of wishing that McVeigh would have apologized but that he never did.

“It took me a long time to get over some of that anger….You just don’t murder little kids. Sometimes I cry during the day, something is going to remind you of the bombing and then you’re… right back where you were on April 19, 1995. We don’t ever get too far from there.”

Never forget.


Dear Prudence

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 10:39 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Washington Post and Slate host an advice column called Dear Prudence aka Emily Yoffe. I’m not a regular reader but most questions seem to focus on the recurring problems of rude, greedy, impatient, or just plain human people. However, the following two entries from today’s column make me realize how different some problems are now than when I grew up:

  • Boston: My ex is dating a friend of mine. The ex is admittedly attracted to pubescent girls (11-14 years old)—though he swears he hasn’t and wouldn’t act on the attraction. I am sure he has never told this to anyone else. My friend he is dating has an 11-year-old daughter. Do I have to say something to my friend?

    Emily Yoffe: Is this the reason the guy is your ex? There’s a certain privilege attached to the intimate exchanges of a couple that should last even after the affair ends. However, I think there’s a more compelling need here to alert your friend that there are some ugly subterranean depths to her new beau that she will probably never hear about from him. You will want to couch this by saying you have nothing but best wishes for her, and you have no problem with them being involved. But given that she has a young daughter in the house, she needs to be extra vigilant with this boyfriend.

  • Philadelphia: How do you respond to someone who says, essentially, why didn’t my spouse and I get invited to your recent dinner party? This person saw comments on Facebook regarding said event and now apparently demands to know why they weren’t invited. For background information, they’ve been guests in my home before, but this time I just didn’t have the space available for people I now consider acquaintances largely because they never do the inviting or planning of events but instead appear to expect an invitation to what others are hosting.

    Emily Yoffe: You can say you look forward to having them over another time, while silently saying to yourself, “Hey, cretins, you’re never coming over again because, first of all, you never reciprocate, and now you’re monitoring my social life and demanding to be included in my events!” Your friends are boors, but this raises a delicate issue about Facebook. If you belong to a social network in which all your friends can monitor your doings, it’s incumbent upon you and others not to “talk” in front of everyone about social events only a few people are invited to.

  • There was also a question about why people like to touch pregnant womens’ bellies. It’s nice to know some things never chance.

    — DRJ

    Congress Issues First Obama Administration Subpoena

    Filed under: Government,Terrorism — DRJ @ 8:52 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    Last week, Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman and ranking minority member Senator Susan Collins threatened to issue a subpoena unless the Obama Administration released information about the Fort Hood shootings. This week they issued the subpoena, the first of the Obama Administration’s tenure:

    “It’s rare for Congress to subpoena an administration controlled by the same party and, in doing so, Lieberman followed through on a threat he made last week. The senator, an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, has increasingly become a thorn in the side of the administration.

    He has accused the administration of stalling a congressional probe into the November shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, saying the departments of Defense and Justice have turned down four requests for documents over the course of five months.

    Last week Lieberman said he would take the White House to court over the issue of whether to share information about the murders, allegedly committed by Maj. Nidal Hasan.

    “We regret there was no change in position,” Lieberman said on a conference call with reporters. “We have signed and are serving subpoenas today.”
    Acting as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Lieberman issued the subpoenas after a noon deadline came and went with no resolution. The subpoenas were issued to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Attorney General Eric Holder.

    In a letter accompanying the subpoenas, Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the committee’s ranking member, gave the administration until 10 a.m. on Monday, April 26 to comply.”

    Both the Pentagon and the DOJ have balked at responding to Lieberman’s request, although it’s not clear if they object for the same reasons:

    “The Pentagon has been concerned that releasing the information requested by Lieberman’s committee would jeopardize the integrity of the military justice process and the criminal prosecution of Hasan.

    Instead, senior Pentagon legal experts indicated that the Department of Defense has tried to offer the panel alternatives, particularly with regard to Hasan’s personnel file and potential witnesses in his trial. Pentagon officials said they tried to provide the committee with the names of people in the chain of command, who would not be potential witnesses, but would have pertinent information. The panel rejected that.”

    Basically, Lieberman is looking at the Hasan shooting as terrorism and a matter for Congressional review, while the Obama Administration treats it as a criminal matter. [EDIT: Lieberman is concerned that the initial Pentagon report doesn’t even mention the possibility that Hasan could be an Islamic terrorist.] Since Hasan will apparently be tried before a military tribunal, the Pentagon is looking for a middle ground that permits Congressional review of a pending military proceeding. It’s a difficult balancing act.

    If the Administration persists in bringing terrorists into the United States to be tried in civilian courts, won’t it be even harder to find a balance that satisfies criminal courts and Congressional oversight?

    — DRJ

    Pennsylvania School District Used Student-Issued Laptops to Take Thousands of Photos

    Filed under: Civil Liberties — DRJ @ 7:50 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    Last February I posted on a Pennsylvania school district that acknowledged remotely activating school-issued laptops to locate those reported missing or stolen. It turns out the district surreptitiously took thousands of photos:

    “Lower Merion School District employees activated the web cameras and tracking software on laptops they gave to high school students about 80 times in the past two school years, snapping nearly 56,000 images that included photos of students, pictures inside their homes and copies of the programs or files running on their screens, district investigators have concluded.

    In most of the cases, technicians turned on the system after a student or staffer reported a laptop missing and turned it off when the machine was found, the investigators determined.

    But in at least five instances, school employees let the Web cams keep clicking for days or weeks after students found their missing laptops, according to the review. Those computers – programmed to snap a photo and capture a screen shot every 15 minutes when the machine was on – fired nearly 13,000 images back to the school district servers.”

    In one case, an attorney alleged the school district took 400 photos of one student who reportedly had not paid his $55 laptop insurance fee, “including shots of him when he was shirtless and while he slept in his bed.” However, preliminary reports indicate the bulk of the photos related to efforts to track down lost or stolen laptops:

    “About 38,500 images – or almost two-thirds of the total number retrieved so far – came from six laptops that were reported missing from the Harriton High School gymnasium in September 2008. The tracking system continued to store images from those computers for nearly six months, until police recovered them and charged a suspect with theft in March 2009.

    The next biggest chunk of images stem from the five or so laptops where employees failed or forgot to turn off the tracking software even after the student recovered the computer.

    In a few other cases, [the school district’s attorney, Henry] Hockeimer said, the team has been unable to recover images or photos stored by the tracking system.

    And in about 15 activations, investigators have been unable to identify exactly why a student’s laptop was being monitored.”

    One student filed a civil rights lawsuit because his photos were used for more than retrieving lost laptops:

    “About 10 employees at the district and its two high schools had the authority to request the computer administrators to activate the tracking system on a student’s laptop, Hockeimer said.

    Only two employees – information systems coordinator Carol Cafiero and network technician Mike Perbix – have the ability to actually turn on and off the tracking. Hockeimer said the district investigators have no evidence to suggest either Perbix or Cafiero activated the system without being asked.

    But the requests were loose and disorganized, he said, sometimes amounting to just an brief e-mail.

    “The whole situation was riddled with the problem of not having any written policies and procedures in place,” Hockeimer said. “And that impacted so much of what happened here.”

    [Sophomore Blake] Robbins has claimed that an assistant principal confronted him in November with a Web cam photo of him in his bedroom. Robbins said the photo shows him with a handful of Mike & Ike candies, but that the assistant principal thought they were drugs.

    His attorney, Haltzman, greeted the release of the numbers skeptically.

    “I wish the school district would have come clean earlier, as soon as they had this information and not waiting until something was filed in court revealing the extent of the spying,” he said.”

    Technology presents novel problems.

    — DRJ

    Road Rage Shooting (Updated)

    Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 2:20 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    Here’s another Houston-area shooting that is a tragedy for the people involved but presents interesting self-defense questions:

    “[Missouri City police Capt. John] Bailey said that at 1:53 a.m., officers responded to a shooting call in the 4100 block of Starboard Shores in the Brightwater subdivision.

    Around that time, the police department received another phone call from [Vancent] Nguyen, who had dialed 911 and said he had just shot a man who had come up to his vehicle and started punching him, Bailey said.

    He was advised to stop his vehicle so officers could locate him and he complied.

    Officers found Nguyen in the 4100 block of Eastshore Drive where he was detained. Other officers found [Roberto] Jaimungal lying in the street in the 4100 block of Starboard Shores bleeding profusely. He died at the scene.

    Bailey said a preliminary investigation showed that the two men became involved in some type of traffic incident moments earlier and the end result of the altercation was the shooting.”

    Nyugen was charged with murdering Jaimugal.

    The comments at the link are also interesting.

    — DRJ

    UPDATED — Local TV station KHOU has more details that explain why Nyugen was charged with murder:

    “Two strangers who lived blocks from each other in Missouri City had a brief encounter Sunday that ended with one of them dead.

    Roberto Jaimungal, 31, had been to the grocery store when he crossed paths with Vanson Nguyen, who was headed home from church.

    Police believe Jaimungal screeched to a stop behind Nguyen at a red light on Lexington and Brightwater, just missing him. Both men drove away.

    Jaimungal’s fiance, Lauren Johnson, said Jaimungal was unloading groceries in the upscale Lakes of Brightwater subdivision when Nguyen pulled up.

    “He asked, ‘Why did you follow us?’” Johnson said. “As soon as he said that, I heard gunshots.”

    Conservative Community Organizing

    Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 2:08 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    Law Professor Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, points out liberal hypocrisy when it comes to conservative protests like the Tea Party groups:

    “Remember: When lefties do it, it’s called “community organizing.” When conservatives and libertarians do it, it’s “astroturf.” But some people are noticing the truth. As Mickey Kaus notes, “If an ‘astroturfing’ campaign gets real people to show up at events stating their real views, isn’t it … community organizing?” Why yes, yes it is.

    As someone who’s been following the Tea Party campaign since the beginning, it seems to me to be the most genuine outbreak of grassroots popular involvement in my lifetime. People have been turning out, in the tens of thousands at times, because they feel that Obama pulled a bait-and-switch and is moving the country much farther to the left than he promised during the campaign.

    More significantly, most of these people are turning out to protest for the first time in their lives, and they’re planning for future political involvement in years to come. Perhaps that’s what’s got the critics worried.”

    I think another thing that worries Democrats is these protesters aren’t being lured by promises of perks or giveaways. They are turning out for principles.

    — DRJ

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