OpenCDA

September 5, 2018

A Snub? Or a Potential Threat Within Arms Reach?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , , — Bill @ 12:55 pm

Guttenberg-Kavanaugh-handshake-Associated-Press-640x480

You may remember seeing this photo in the skews media today.  It was taken by Associated Press Photographer Andrew Harnik.  The man on the right (blue tie) is Federal District Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to be an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court.  The man on the left (hand extended) is Fred Guttenberg, the father of one of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting victims.

The photograph captures Guttenberg, an invited guest of California Senator Dianne Feinstein, approaching Judge Kavanaugh as the Judge had just arisen from the witness table after testifying in the first day of his confirmation hearing before the US Senate Judiciary Committee.   The photo accompanied the Breitbart online article headlined Debunked:  Anti-Trump Parkland Dad Targets Brett Kavanaugh With Handshake Stunt lede paragraph which read:

Democrats are swooning over the accusation that Judge Brett Kavanaugh snubbed Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed in the Parkland, Florida mass shooting, when Guttenberg tried to shake his hand at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

Regardless of what you might think of Breitbart’s credibility, the linked article’s story provides more contextual information that most of the stories which appeared in the legacy skews media.

The Breitbart story and the accompanying photo has some details that raise questions.

1.  How do you read the expression on Judge Kavanaugh’s face?

To have consciously and intentionally “snubbed Fred Guttenberg,” Judge Kavanaugh would have to have immediately recognized Guttenberg or at least have heard enough from what Guttenberg said to have arrived at a decision to “snub” Guttenberg.

My reading of Judge Kavanaugh’s expression is,  “Who the hell are you?”  The Judge, his wife, his daughters, and his mother had just been required to calmly sit and endure the infantile behavior of several Democrat Senators on the Judiciary Committee.  His wife had felt compelled to remove his two daughters from the hearing for their safety because of the admittedly choreographed disruptive and near-violent behavior by people seated behind them in the audience.

And a memory of Federal District Judge John M. Roll may have flashed across Judge Kavanaugh’s mind.

2.  Did Senator Diane Feinstein of California suggest or otherwise encourage Guttenberg to approach Judge Kavanaugh when she invited him to be her guest at the hearing? If so, was it her intent and hope Kavanaugh might react to Guttenberg in some way that the legacy media could twist into an embarrassing accusation to jeopardize his nomination?

3.  Had Senator Feinstein,  Protest Choreographer Senator Chuck Schumer and his Assistant Protest Choreographer Senator Dick (appropriately named!) Durbin forewarned Judge Kavanaugh or his security detail that Guttenberg was going to be in the audience and that he might try to speak with Judge Kavanaugh?

4.  Who was responsible for providing personal security and protection for Judge Kavanaugh and his family inside the hearing room?  If it was the US Capitol Police, why did they allow Guttenberg (or anyone else not known to them) to approach him as Guttenberg did?

Assuming he was surprised at the presence of a person unknown to him and approaching and already in arm’s reach of him, Judge Kavanaugh did exactly the right thing by not shaking hands with Guttenberg, not saying anything to him, and then quickly turning and walking away.

I wish whoever was responsible for Judge Kavanaugh’s and his family’s personal security inside the Judiciary Committee hearing room had reacted more quickly and as appropriately as the Judge did.

August 24, 2018

Three Worth Reading

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , , — Bill @ 11:51 am

Hoax+Comp+AO

When the 2016 Republican National Convention delegates nominated Donald J. Trump to be the party’s presidential nominee on July 19, 2016, it generated more of a shock inside the Republican Party than it did with the Democrats.   After all,  “everyone” including many Republicans knew and accepted that 2016 was going to be the year of the first woman President of the United States.  She was to be Hillary Clinton.  (more…)

June 14, 2018

DoJ OIG Final Report – FBI & DoJ Interference in 2016 Election

06-14-2018 OIG Report CoverThe long-awaited US Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General’s report concerning the FBI’s and DoJ’s interference in the 2016 election was released Jkune 14, 2018.  Here is a link to the 568-page (some pages blank) report.

I’m sure some readers will disagree with my characterization “the FBI’s and DoJ’s interference.”  Read the report and come to your own conclusions.  My opinion, a conclusion, is that they interfered, and that inteference seems to be continuing even now by the FBI’s and DoJ’s unlawfully withholding information Congress needs to perform its Constitutionally-required oversight.

Spontaneous statements can be valid indicators of state of mind.

The text messages between two high-up FBI employees, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, were spontaneous, not scripted.  One (see page 402 headed August 8, 2016) that was particularly chilling.  It read:

“In a text message on August 7, 2016, Page stated, “[Trump’s not ever going to become president, right?  Right?!”  Strzok responded, “No.  No he’s not.  We’ll stop it.” [emphasis mine]

Keep in mind that Peter Strzok was not some hump brick agent — he is an FBI Deputy Assistant Director.  Lisa Page was the Special Counsel to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.   It’s fair to wonder just how far they would be willing to go to stop Donald J. Trump from being elected President.

And yet in a press conference Thursday, FBI Director Christopher Wray reiterated what was asserted in the report:  There was nothing in the FBI’s conduct of the investigation that indicated political bias.   (more…)

May 25, 2018

House Conservatives Call for Another Special Counsel

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , — Bill @ 3:10 pm

House of Reps logoSeveral members of the US House of Representatives introduced a House Resolution today calling for the appointment of a second Special Counsel to look into alleged wrongdoing by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and its parent department, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Specifically, the resolution calls on the Attorney General of the United States to, “…appoint a Special Counsel to investigate misconduct at the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation, including an investigation of abuse of the FISA warrant process, how and why the Hillary Clinton probe ended, and how and why the Donald Trump-Russia probe began.”

Today’s House Resolution, even if passed, will have no effect in law but is only an expression of opinion or intention.  Its 57 recitals form a useful synopsis of the reasons offered by the Resolution’s signers to support the appointment of another Special Counsel.

(ADDENDUM/UPDATE:  The original post on 05-21-2018 included the unsigned draft of the resolution.  Today’s update replaces that draft with the resolution formally introduced and referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary  today including the names of all sponsors.)

May 11, 2018

Just Who Is Our Enemy Here?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , , — Bill @ 12:05 pm

COSI-TopSecret-If you haven’t yet read Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel’s column posted on May 10, 2018, please take the time to read it.  It was entitled About That FBI ‘Source’.

Strassel asserts that Rosenstein and the US Department of Justice are stonewalling the House Intelligence Committee’s most recent subpoena because, “… the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.”

Strassel’s column implies that the FBI inserted  a highly-placed human intelligence source or recruited one already inside the Trump campaign before the 2016 election.  She also says, “… we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a ‘top secret intelligence source’ of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe.” [emphasis mine]  In other words, she suggests the FBI was running an intelligence collection operation inside the Trump campaign.

Assuming Strassel and her competitors at the Washington Post have the straight scoop, it raises a few  questions.

  • Was the Trump Campaign the only presidential campaign targeted or were other presidential candidate campaigns targeted as well?  If so, which ones?
  • Who made the final decision to allow the FBI to run a collection operation inside the Trump campaign?  Who had the authority to okay ‘a top secret intelligence source of the FBI and CIA’ to collect information about or exert influence on a candidate or nominee for President of the United States?
  • Was the ‘top secret intelligence source’ a human being or technical device(s) or combination of both?
  • Who or what was the actual target of the collection operation?  If it was only for collection, what were the essential elements of information sought?
  • Was the ‘top secret intelligence source’ of the FBI and CIA an information collector or was s/he an agent of influence (or both)?
  • Who was the human source’s handler/case officer?  To whom did the ‘top secret intelligence source’ report?
  • When?
    • When was this operation first proposed and by whom?
    • When was the operation finally approved?
    • When did the operation launch?
    • When will Congress subpoena the Case Officer’s contact reports and source?
    • If the operation began and continued after Trump had officially become the Republican nominee and was therefore receiving national security briefings, when was the Secret Service notified of this operation as it should have been?
    • When did this operation end (assuming it has!)?
    • When was candidate/nominee/President Trump first notified of this operation and by whom?
  • Was the collection operation limited to personal observations and recollections of the ‘top secret intelligence source’ or was the ‘top secret intelligence source’ allowed or directed to spot, assess, and recruit other human sources within the Trump campaign?

The actions of Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to resist the HPSCI’s subpoenas only adds to the plausibility of the Washington Post’s and Wall Street Journal’s articles.  President Trump can if he chooses declassify everything DoJ and the CIA have on this matter.  Whether he should or not must be based on legitimate national security considerations, not political expedience or advantage.

October 9, 2017

The Value of Planning and Training

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 8:33 am

LVMPD Sheriff Joseph LombardoThe Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and its elected Sheriff Joseph Lombardo know firsthand the human life value of money spent for planning and training all LVMPD’s employees.

That planning and training saved hundreds more lives than the 59 which were lost on October 1, 2017, when Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino high-roller guest Stephen Paddock fired hundreds of rounds from his 32nd floor suite into a crowd of thousands attending the Route 91 Harvest Country Festival across Las Vegas Boulevard from the hotel.

This CNN news feature headlined Las Vegas police officers describe storming gunman’s room  reminds them and us of the real value of private security and law enforcement response planning and training.

So does the CBS 60 Minutes infotainment segment Storming Room 135.  As Sheriff Lombardo explains in the segment, the on-scene assembly of two LVMPD dog handlers, a SWAT officer, and a detective was hardly haphazard as the word ‘storming’ implies.  It was their planning and training that gave them the confidence and skills to quickly assemble and function as a coordinated first-in team.

OpenCdA is reasonably sure that when Sheriff Lombardo proposed his trip to Mumbai, India, in November 2008 to study the terrorist attack on hotels and other sites there that killed 164 people, some officials probably questioned the cost of that trip.  What could the Sheriff possibly learn that would justify such an expenditure of funds?  What is the real likelihood of a mass killing ever occurring in Clark County and Las Vegas?

Now they know.  The money spent for thoughtful planning and training saved lives on October 1, 2017.   Good leaders invest money on planning and preparing their employees.  Politicians spend money on memorials.

September 28, 2017

Decertified or Not?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 11:44 am

KCSO graphicThis morning’s local skews paper, the Coeur d’Alene Press, published an article entitled ‘Sheriff’s Captain Terminated.’

The article stated

“Both Wolfinger and Soumas told The Press the termination was not due to any criminal wrongdoing.”

But the article also quoted a KCSO interoffice memo which said

“Captain Dan Soumas has been terminated from employment effective immediately and is prohibited from accessing the non-public areas of the sheriff’s office without an official escort. Soumas is no longer authorized to take actions as a peace officer.” [emphasis OpenCdA’s]

The portion I’ve highlighted in this quotation strongly suggests that former Captain Soumas has been or will soon be decertified as an Idaho peace officer by the Idaho Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.

Has former Captain Soumas been decertified as an Idaho peace officer or not?

Concerning the paragraph containing the highlighted portion and attributed to Sheriff Wolfinger, the article went on

Wolfinger said that is a standard message issued to employees when someone no longer works at the department.

The “standard message” Wolfinger issues  seems to imply that immediately upon leaving the department, regardless of the reason for leaving,  the former employee automatically loses Idaho peace officer certification and authorization which has been granted by the Idaho Peace Officer and Standards Training Commission.   While that may be what Wolfinger wants to imply to the public, that would be inconsistent with the laws and administrative procedures of Idaho.

Open CdA wishes the Coeur d’Alene Press skewspaper would develop reporters and editors with sufficient subject matter knowledge to publish articles which do not add to the public’s confusion about official actions taken by our local governments.

July 4, 2017

Not a Good Idea

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 8:01 pm

DWI-blood-drawIn its Sunday skewspaper article very distastefully headlined Police Are Out for Blood, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported that Coeur d’Alene police officers are being trained and certified as phlebotomists so they can do field blood draws on persons suspected of driving under the influence of intoxicants.

OpenCdA has some concerns and questions we believe must be addressed by the Coeur d’Alene City Council before it applies its obligatory and ceremonial rubber stamp of approval to this proposed practice.

The skewspaper article failed to report what happens to the sample after it has been obtained by the officer.  Where and by whom is the actual analysis of the sample performed?  What will the Department’s policy be regarding timely delivery of the sample to the testing laboratory?

Of considerably greater concern is the skewspaper article’s implication that this policy and procedure is being proposed to circumvent an existing requirement that officer obtain a search warrant to perform a physiologically invasive, nonconsensual search of a suspect.  Our concern is prompted by these lines of the skewspaper article:

 

If an impaired motorist refuses to submit to a breathalyzer and police have probable cause the motorist is intoxicated, they must get a search warrant to draw blood at a hospital.

“Getting a search warrant takes a while,” Hagar said. “A lot of time, things are too busy and it takes a while.”

By reducing the time — getting a blood draw at the scene — police can get more accurate BACs, which can aid in prosecution, Hagar said.

If a search warrant is required now for a hospital phlebotomist to conduct a physically intrusive, involuntary, and nonconsensual search of the suspect’s body at the hospital, why won’t a search warrant also be required for a law enforcement officer to conduct a physically intrusive involuntary and nonconsensual search of the suspect’s body in the patrol car?

A reasonable inference from the article is that a suspect in the custody of a patrol officer in the field could be persuaded (coerced) into giving “voluntary, informed consent” for  a blood draw in the field.

We are also very concerned that some people are, to put it mildly, needle averse.  They may be able to tolerate a draw using a blood collection system composed of a multi-sample vacuum collection needle and a disposable tube holder in the hands of an experienced, non-threatening phlebotomist at the hospital.  The same equipment system in the hands of an arresting police officer begins to look more like a painful interrogation tool designed to elicit an involuntary admission or involuntary consent.

Are the police going to hold the suspect down while the newly-trained police officer draws blood if the suspect objects to the search?  How is that going to look on the video from the body camera?  Policy would mandate that from the beginning of the stop through the completion of the involuntary blood draw, there must be an unbroken,  clear, and intelligible video image with audio of the entire process.  Failure to rigidly adhere to the policy ought to administratively require the exclusion of all BAC evidence by the court in that case as presumptively involuntarily and illegally obtained.  In other words, before the evidence obtained from the blood draw is admitted, the court must require the state first prove the blood draw was lawful.  The audio-video evidence from the arresting officer’s body camera is the best way to prove that.

What’s next?  Police officers trained to catheterize suspects to obtain urine samples?  Officers trained to conduct colonoscopies to search for drug packets?

May 5, 2017

Nault Wrongful Death Lawsuit Complaint

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , , — Bill @ 9:45 am

DisingenuousAs reported in OpenCdA’s May 3, 2017, post entitled Be Strong and Take Courage …, family members of Reginald J. ‘Reggie’ Nault have filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit in Mr. Nault’s death.

OpenCdA has obtained a copy of the initial complaint for damages and demand for jury trial filed in Idaho’s First Judicial District Court on May 2, 2017, at 5:05 p.m.

In addition to identifying the plaintiffs and defendants specifically and individually by name and establishing the jurisdiction and venue of the Court, the complaint particularizes each specific allegation the plaintiffs believe they can prove at trial.

OpenCdA’s preceding posts concerning Mr. Nault’s death raised questions about the quality and timeliness of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office investigation and its unwillingness to release the investigative reports to the Nault family.  We also raised concerns about the conflict asserted by Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh when the ‘conflict’ attorney, Boundary County Prosecutor Jack Douglas’s press release stated, “However, based on my review of this event and applicable Idaho law, I have determined that no criminal act can be shown to be a direct cause of Mr. Nault’s death.  Therefore, charges will not be filed against anyone by my office.”  [emphasis OpenCdA’s]

Paragraph 2.20 and in particular its subparagraphs 2.20.a through 2.20.i in the complaint allege circumstances which, if sufficient evidence exists to show probable cause, would warrant the filing of some criminal charges.   Paragraphs 3.2.z  through 3.2.bb specifically cite Idaho statutes which plaintiffs believe were violated.

Even if we and our readers believe Mr. Douglas’s assessment of evidence and applicable law was appropriate when his office declined to file charges against anyone because no criminal act could be shown to be a direct cause of Mr. Nault’s death, the failure to explain why other possibly appropriate criminal charges were not filed certainly raises valid questions.

The public has a legitimate interest in examining the professional conduct of its elected officials.  The Sheriff and the Prosecuting Attorney are not exempt from that examination.

OpenCdA believes the evidence admitted in court in the wrongful death lawsuit brought by Reggie Nault’s family should contribute to the public’s assessment of the official performance of duties by Kootenai County Sheriff Benton Wolfinger and Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh.

Additionally, we believe that it will give the public the opportunity to assess the performance of the First Judicial District judge who ultimately hears the case.

To the extent that other elected officials not yet named in any complaint may have received some or all the results of the investigation while those same results were being withheld from the Nault family, we think those officials’ conduct and the conduct of the investigative information provider(s) are deserving of public scrutiny as well.

We hope that the public will pay close attention to the news coverage and reporting of this trial by local and regional newspapers and television stations.    We hope that the news media will carefully and thoroughly question and then timely, completely, and accurately report inconsistencies between the trial evidence and the public officials’ statements and characterizations of that evidence.

Finally, we hope that on his own initiative,  Idaho Attorney General Lawrence G. Wasden pays very, very close attention to the filings and evidence in this civil lawsuit.  His office has statutory jurisdiction as well as a duty and responsibility to investigate if the evidence presented in court reveals violations of state criminal law by county officers who hold elective office.   In this particular lawsuit, the county officers most directly involved who hold elective office would include Kootenai County Sheriff Benton Wolfinger, Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh, and Kootenai County Coroner Warren Keene.

May 3, 2017

Be Strong and Take Courage …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , — Bill @ 7:25 pm

DisingenuousSeveral previous OpenCdA posts have commended the family of Reggie Nault for engaging a local attorney and pursuing the facts in Reggie Nault’s drowning death.

Melissa Luck, Assistant News Director at KXLY4 News in Spokane,  posted an online news story revealing that a wrongful death civil lawsuit was filed by the Nault family today, Wednesday, May 3.  According to her story, the lawsuit names as defendants the two other 16-year old boys in the boat as well as two adults who allegedly provided alcoholic beverages to the three boys.

OpenCdA concludes tonight’s admittedly incomplete post with the same words we used to end our first one on October 20, 2015:

As OpenCdA has often said, the Kootenai County justice rug has become lumpier and lumpier as incidents have been swept under it.  By engaging an attorney to monitor the investigation of Reggie Nault’s death and evaluate the results of that investigation, the young man’s family is honoring his life by using his death to keep a trained and watchful eye on those who might be tempted to lift the rug’s edge and sweep again.  The facts are the facts, and they will not change.

There can be no genuinely good outcome when a young person dies prematurely.  The closest thing to a comforting outcome is that the person’s family hopes others will learn from the facts of his death and use what they learn to help themselves and others avoid similar outcomes.

We think the Nault family’s action toward that end is honorable and commendable.

We will try to get a copy of the lawsuit’s complaint and post it here.

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