OpenCDA

April 25, 2017

Hallelujah! And Hogwash

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:29 pm

USSS Badge

In our March 25, 2017, OpenCdA post entitled ‘Reevaluate the US Secret Service‘, we expressed our hope that the new Director would be chosen from the Department of Defense.

In its just-published online article, the New York Times announced that former Marine Corps Major General Tex Alles will be the new Director of the US Secret Service.

We don’t know General Alles, however to his appointment we say, “Hallelujah!  Kick ass and take names, General!”

Former Director Ralph Basham was quoted in the Times article as saying, ”  “You are always going to have questions about whether an outsider really understands the mission or what it’s like to stand a post at the White House at midnight.   But I am not sure that is what is really the challenge right now. I think the challenge is to win back the confidence of the American people, the White House and the Congress.”

Former Director Basham comments indicate  the problem, not the solution.  He was not alone by any means, but to Ralph’s comments, we say, “Hogwash!”

It was a Marine enlisted sentry standing a security post at Camp David who did his duty and challenged former President Carter walking on the secluded grounds at Camp David.   The key phrase there is ‘did his duty’.  He followed the orders attendant to his security post.   That was the mission.  The Marine understood it and he performed it exactly as he should have.  Rather than being offended or arrogant, the President defended the Marine’s actions to the base commander.

It’s time for an ‘outsider’, in this instance General Alles, to teach the Secret Service that its protective  ‘mission’ is to provide the President of the United States with a secure environment in which he can perform his duties, the duties we elected him to perform.  The protective  ‘mission’ of the US Secret Service is not ‘to win back the confidence of the American people, the White House and the Congress.’

From our own personal experience, we humbly reassure General Alles of something he will soon learn for himself:  The further down the Secret Service food chain you go, the further away from Headquarters Mahogany Row you get, the more clearly you will see that nearly all of the men and women working at all the jobs in the Secret Service have a clear understanding of and commitment to the mission of the Secret Service.   Please listen to them, too, General.

April 22, 2017

‘ALL’ ? Really?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , , — Bill @ 7:39 am

DisingenuousSeveral earlier OpenCdA posts beginning with the one entitled ‘In Search of Facts’ on October 20, 2015, commended Reggie Nault’s family for engaging attorney Lee James to try and shovel the details of the investigation into Mr. Nault’s death from under the increasingly lumpy Kootenai County rug.

The headline of the article in today’s Coeur d’Alene Press says it all:   ‘Judge:  Release Nault Records‘.

As reported, First District Court Judge Rich Christensen has ordered Kootenai County Sheriff Benton Wolfinger to turn over ALL of the Nault records to Mr. Nault’s family.   Sadly, the Nault family had to get a court order to force Wolfinger to release the records.  Unsurprisingly, Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh sought to help Wolfinger keep information in the records from ever seeing the light of day.

There were some questions we would expect to have been fully and completely answered in the investigative reports prepared by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office investigators.  They include:

What adults were present on the boat and at the dock?  Whose boat was it?  Who was operating the boat?  What was the boat operator’s degree of impairment?  Or was the operator’s impairment even determined by Sheriff’s deputies?  What was the unexpurgated timeline of events surrounding the incident?  From the moment Mr. Nault went into the water, who did what and when did they do it?  Was evidence of alcohol consumption by minors concealed by the minors or any adults present?  If other crimes were committed which contributed to Mr. Nault’s death or which hindered the investigation into it, why were those crimes not charged by the Kootenai County Prosecutor or a ‘conflict’ attorney from another county?

Now we hope either or both our local and regional skews papers do their  job as (alleged) newspapers and file public records requests to examine ALL of the records Judge Christensen ordered to be released.   We would also hope that the papers publish complete and accurate stories that enable readers to fully evaluate the competence and performance of the County Sheriff and the County Prosecuting Attorney.

We’re not holding our breath on that.

In the past, both the Coeur d’Alene Press and The Spokesman-Review have appeared inclined to under-report stories revealing the job performance of public officials they favor in Kootenai County.

We think that in particular, both papers ought to look closely at the number and nature of ‘conflicts’ that Prosecutor Barry McHugh declares when he farms cases out to prosecuting attorneys in other counties.   That information is one of the valid job performance assessment tools available to voters.

We also think that the papers ought to look at the quality of the investigation done by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office.  A poor or incomplete initial investigation into an unattended death reflects as badly on a department’s leadership, supervision, and training as it does on the investigators who completed it.  At the same time, it is not unheard of in some law enforcement agencies to occasionally have investigators’  reports adjusted by supervisors in the interest of political expedience or out of consideration for the social standing of some involved.

As we did in our initial OpenCdA post on October 20, 2015, we once again sympathetically commend the Nault family for their decision and efforts to pursue the facts surrounding Reggie Nault’s death.   Unfortunately, it took an order of the Court to get it done, but we offer a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to the Nault family and their attorney Lee James for fighting to get it.

April 20, 2017

A Glimmer of Hope?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 12:27 pm

Homeland_Security_Kelly_55629.jpg-360ab_c0-301-4996-3213_s885x516With the election and inauguration of President Donald Trump, there may finally be a glimmer of hope that the federal law enforcement behemoth known as the Department of Homeland Security will either get its stuff together or be broken up into its component sub-agencies.

The glimmer of hope is John F. Kelly.

Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, its sub-agencies have successfully worked hard to become the worst places to work in the federal government.

Among large government agencies, DHS is ranked last among places to work.

Among the responding 305 sub-agencies in the federal government, the bottom three agencies (303-TSA, 304-IA, and 305-USSS), the worst of the worst places to work, reside in DHS.

General Kelly succeeds four political hacks (Ridge, Chertoff, Napolitano, and Johnson) who were selected by equally inept hyperpartisan presidents (Bush and Obama) and confirmed by US Senators with the attention span of fruit flies.

Our glimmer of hope is revealed by his April 18, 2017, speech at George Washington University.  Consider the last few lines of his speech:

Employee Morale

But for too long, the men and women of my Department have been political pawns. They have been asked to do more with less, and less, and less.

In many ways similar to the treatment suffered by law enforcement over the last few years, they are often ridiculed and insulted by public officials, and frequently convicted in the court of public opinion on unfounded allegations testified to by street lawyers and spokespersons.

If lawmakers do not like the laws they’ve passed and we are charged to enforce—then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws. Otherwise they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines. My people have been discouraged from doing their jobs for nearly a decade, disabled by pointless bureaucracy and political meddling, and suffered disrespect and contempt by public officials who have no idea what it means to serve.

During my confirmation process and in hearings, members of congress, the press and other public officials frequently asked me about the morale problems the Department has experienced over the last few years. My response has simply been –when you discourage, disable, unjustly criticize and default to believing the self-serving accusations of a wrong doer rather than the DHS police official at the point of the action, and focus disrespect on an individual for doing his or her job, what else do you expect?

It stopped on January 20.

My people—the men and women of the Department—do a difficult and at times nearly impossible job in the service of the American people. They deserve our nation’s thanks and respect. They deserve to be proud of the jobs they do.

We are moving in exactly the right direction.

Why? Because the best way to improve morale is to let employees do the jobs they were hired and trained to do, and recognize them for doing it.

Never Apologize

We will never apologize for enforcing and upholding the law.

We will never apologize for carrying out our mission.

We will never apologize for making our country more secure.

We ask for nothing more than respect and your support. We don’t do this for the thank yous—we do this keep America strong, secure, and free.

We live in a dangerous world. Those dangers are increasing, and changing speed and direction every single day.

But every day, we are vigilant. We are prepared. And we will do our jobs.

He sounds like a former Marine who is concerned for his troops’ morale and the national security. He sounds like a leader the troops will follow.

 

March 30, 2017

SSCI Hearings: Russian Influence on the 2016 US Presidential Election

On Thursday, March 30, 2017, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) held an entire day of public hearings in Washington, DC.  The SSCI was looking into the allegations that the Russians had influenced the outcome of the 2016 presidential election which elected Donald F. Trump to be the 45th President of the United States.  The nature of its duty, Congressional oversight of US intelligence activities, results in very few open public hearings.

OpenCdA watched these hearings lasting just over five hours.   Congressional hearings are nearly always predominantly boring speechifying by self-serving elected Congressional representatives.  These two hearings today were not boring, and there was nearly no partisan speechifying.

The Senators on the SSCI were exceptionally well-prepared and asked on-point, insightful questions.  The content of their questions and the perspectives and expertise offered by the witnesses suggested that Congress has finally recognized the ongoing threat that information warfare or information operations presents to the United States.  Senators took these hearings and the information from them very seriously.  We should, too.

OpenCdA urges citizens who are serious about understanding how effectively the Russians use information warfare strategies and tactics to offset a superior kinetic warfare force will find these five hours of hearings remarkably understandable and educational.  The same readers will also better understand just how effectively Russia has manipulated our free press (AKA:  the skews media) to influence public opinion.  Unfortunately, the hearings also revealed in living color just how derelict our elected officials have been since about 1990 in recognizing the existence, let alone the gravity of info war and info ops.

Here are links to video of Thursday’s hearings.

Morning Hearing:  Disinformation:  A Primer in Russian Active Measures and Influence Campaigns

Afternoon Hearing:  Disinformation:  A Primer in Russian Active Measures and Influence Campaigns

OpenCdA hopes that especially younger readers will take time to watch these hearings.   You need to understand just how your choice of news delivery platform, often social media like Twitter and Facebook and not just the traditional print and broadcast media, is being manipulated to shape the disinformation you read every day.  You will also hear just how easily the Russians turned President Trump’s frequent Tweets against him.

March 29, 2017

In ___ We Trust; All Others We Monitor

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 12:08 pm

In-Obama-We-Trust-Patch-DownsizeI urge you to read this article entitled Obama’s Rule Changes Opened Door for NSA Intercepts of Americans to Reach Political Hands.

Here is a link to Executive Order 12333.  Pay particular attention to Section 2.3, Collection of Information.

Here is the document that Obama approved just before he left office.  It amends E.O. 12333, primarily Section 2.3.  This document expands the number of people who can be given permission to view raw signals intelligence (SIGINT) information.

The result of expanding that list is to make it more difficult to find and prosecute persons who unlawfully and without authorization disseminate SIGINT, some of the most sensitive information the US Intelligence Community handles.   Thus, it is highly probable that sensitive information about political candidates will find its way into the hands of those candidates’ opponents.

OpenCdA has two questions:

(1) Why did our elected representatives in Congress allow this to happen?  (Answer:  Complacency, cowardice, and incompetence)

(2) Why did our supposed news media not cover this subversion of the national security by President Obama as closely as it has covered President Trump’s trips to Mara Lago? (Answer:  Complicity and incompetence)

Lukey Doody & Buffalo Butch

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:06 am

Comparison

When OpenCdA reviewed our local legislators’ voting records on the Idaho Legislature’s House Bill 67 (that’s the ‘repeal the grocery tax’ bill that Governor Otter has indicated he might veto), the monochrome image of the stars of our favorite television program of the 1950’s popped into our small mind.

Striking similarities, aren’t they?

March 25, 2017

Reevaluate the US Secret Service

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:15 am

TSD LogoIf the recent penetration of the White House grounds and the theft of a laptop computer with sensitive security and investigative information are an accurate indication of the present security awareness and readiness of the US Secret Service, then once again a major reevaluation of the organization is needed.

First, the protective mission of the Secret Service needs to be restated with renewed emphasis.  “Gunshot mentality” must be culturally replaced with “Secure environment mentality.”  It was supposed to happen after the Warren Commission report, but complacency dies hard.

Second, the present Secret Service Director must be replaced with someone from outside the Secret Service.  In addition to all of the administrative and management knowledge, skills, and abilities taxpayers would expect in a 21st century chief executive law enforcement officer, the new Director must also have a very strong and extensive experiential background in counterintelligence.  The new Director should come with extensive experience from a counterintelligence component inside the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Defense Department (DoD), or Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).   OpenCdA’s preference would be to select a new Director from the DoD.

The two recent incidents linked above and others that preceded them are clear indicators that some of the more sensitive findings of the September 24, 1964, President’s Commission to Report Upon the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Warren Commission) were not fully culturally embraced by the US Secret Service.  The various Congressional committees examining the recent performance of the US Secret Service needs to look back at all those findings including those still under the seal of secrecy. (more…)

March 13, 2017

What Standard of ‘Evidence’?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 12:39 pm

In-Obama-We-Trust-Patch-DownsizeArizona U.S. Senator John McCain is demanding that President Trump either produce evidence or retract the allegation his telecommunications system at the Trump Tower was ‘wiretapped’ by someone at the direction of former President Obama.

There are at least two Congressional committees which will apparently be including Trump’s allegations of wiretaps in broader investigations.

OpenCdA wonders:   By what standard would the sufficiency and validity of any Trump-produced evidence be judged?  What would be acceptable evidence in the eyes of John McCain, Charles Schumer,  and the other Capitol Hill Clowns?

Our opinion is that the standard for evaluating Trump’s comments before and during the investigations needs to be based on the broader requirement for probable cause rather than the narrower federal rules of evidence.

Probable cause amounts to more than a mere suspicion but less than evidence that would justify a conviction.  Would a reasonable man considering the information available conclude that some of Trump’s or his associates’ wire and oral communications may have been lawfully or unlawfully intercepted?

OpenCdA very strongly suspects that in the eyes and small minds of establishment rabidista partisans among the Clowns, no evidence submitted by President Trump will be sufficient to do anything other than give them an opportunity for more face time on the network news and talk shows. (more…)

March 11, 2017

You’re Fired — No, Really!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 4:20 pm

Preet BhararaIn our OpenCdA post yesterday we expressed hope that President Trump would ask Preet Bharara to remain as the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.   Bharara was fearless, absolutely unimpressed with a suspect’s political office, social position, connections, or wealth.  He had a remarkable record of successfully prosecuting some of the worst of the worst criminals in New York, including several prominent corrupt state legislators and other officials as well as financiers.

Bharara had met with President-elect Trump in November and had reportedly been told by Trump and Attorney General nominee Sessions he would be asked to stay on as the US Attorney.

After refusing to submit his resignation, Bharara was formally fired today at President Trump’s direction by acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente.

Bharara will do just fine on the outside.  In fact, OpenCdA thinks he would make a pretty good federal district court or appeals court judge.   Hopefully that’s what President Trump has in mind for him.

Unfortunately, the real losers are the people in the southern district of New York who had come to trust Bharara and his very capable Assistant US Attorneys to stand up against corrupt public officials, white collar crime predators, and organized crime families.  Bharara’s office was so successful because he attracted high-quality, experienced lawyers to leave often lucrative private practices and enter the public service.

Unlike Main Justice in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York didn’t have any swamp water that needed to be drained.  We can only hope that whoever President Trump nominates to replace Preet Bharara will be able to continue to attract and retain the best AUSAs.

The capable career prosecutors, the AUSAs, need a strong US Attorney to keep the political hacks off their backs.   Preet Bharara did that very effectively.  We hope that’s not why President Trump fired him.

March 10, 2017

You’re Fired!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 4:55 pm

AG SessionsAn article in the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has requested the resignations of the remaining 46 US Attorneys in their respective federal judicial districts.

Of the 93 US Attorneys heading each of the 94 federal judicial districts, 47 of them had already resigned (districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands share a USA).  Each US Attorney is a political appointee who serves at the pleasure of the President.

Idaho’s former US Attorney, Wendy Jo Olson, bailed out on February 25, 2017.  Olson joined the Boise law firm of Stoel Rives LLP.

First Assistant US Attorney Rafael Gonzalez Jr. will serve as the interim US Attorney for the District of Idaho until a permanent replacement is nominated by the President and confirmed by the US Senate.

Some of the US Attorneys may be asked by President Trump to remain.  OpenCdA hopes Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, will be one who is.   In fact, we think it would be fun to watch some of Idaho’s roaches scramble for cover if Bharara were to seek appointment in the District of Idaho.  The reality is Idaho is likely to get some politically-connected local loser who will recuse himself or herself from any case with even a hint of personal political jeopardy and who will be guided not by the law but by certain key political and business figures here.

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