Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Jeremy Joseph Christian murders two men and injures one on a MAX Train in Portland, Oregon.

Much has been written and reported about the Friday murders on a Portland MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) commuter train.  I have some thoughts from a law enforcement perspective.

Let’s be clear, I was not on the train.  I have no firsthand knowledge of how the incident evolved.  As I understand it…

It was a busy commuter train loaded with passengers – about 4:30PM.  Jeremy Christian was causing a disturbance.  He was loud and erratic – screaming abusive language like:  “colored people are ruining the city.”  He then seemed to turn his wrath on two young women, who he perceived to be Muslim.

Passengers, three men, attempted to intervene, trying to calm Christian down, stating that he should sit down and leave the train at the next stop.  The situation escalated quickly.  Christian pulled a knife, slashing out, ultimately killing two of the men and injuring another.  Christian then jumped off the train at the next station.  He was quickly apprehended by law enforcement.

The citizens who confronted Christian are praised as heroes.  And without doubt, their efforts to neutralize a bad situation were heroic.  However, from a perspective of a former FBI Firearms and police instructor, their actions were perhaps ill-advised.  This is not meant as criticism.  The men showed bravery.  Their intentions were noble.  I will explain my reservations.

The men, probably due to the noise and confined space on the train, approached Christian too closely and attempted to reason with him.  Christian was manic, apparently deranged and possibly under the influence of drugs.  The men’s approach made him feel diminished and ‘trapped.’

Experienced law enforcement officers know that people like Christian are not easily ‘talked down,’ especially when they have an audience.  Police recognize that someone like Christian is extremely dangerous, and they would give themselves space to maneuver – unless a situation demands otherwise.  A uniformed officer probably would have talked to Christian from five to ten feet and encouraged him to step off the train at the next stop so that they could discuss it; being careful that Christian would not perceive the situation as ‘losing face.’  At that point, an arrest could be made without endangering other passengers.

As an FBI Agent, I carried a gun on duty and off duty for several years.  If I had been on the MAX train during this incident, I would not have approached Christian.  As any citizen should, I would have called 911 advised them of the situation, asked the police to meet us at the next stop.

What would Christian have done if I had approached him, showed my FBI credentials, and told him to sit down and be quiet?  Probably, the situation would have gone from bad to worse.  Now, if he had been brandishing a knife and threatening to harm other passengers that would be a very different situation and could have, probably would have, warranted lethal force.

True Nelson

 Related image

Saturday, May 27, 2017

My Life: I've Experienced a Life Changing Event (Part 2)

Before I leave the subject of my recent surgery, I’d like to express a word or two about religion and what role it plays in my life – more importantly what I believe.
This is an awkward subject in that I have had close friends and relatives who are, for lack of a better word, religious.  On the other hand, I have had close friends and relatives who were atheists – at least I think that is how they would describe themselves.

There is a saying that ‘there are no atheists in foxholes.’  I tend to believe that, but can’t say with certainty.  I’ve never been in a military operation where death seemed probable or imminent.  Even if I had been, I’m convinced that would not be a priority topic for discussion among my comrades-in-arms.  It’s just too personal.

On a bit of an aside, awhile back I was reading about D-Day (June 6, 1944).  There were many dying young men on the beaches, many merely boys.  Medics reported that dying soldiers did not, for the most part, call out to God.  They often called for their mothers.  I found that statement troubling and hard to forget.

The type of heart surgery I had can be a little scary.  They, after all, cut/saw your chest open and stop your heart while they make repairs.  That said, we are so lucky/blessed to have the expert medical care that actually accomplishes this type of surgery – as well as even more difficult surgeries – on a day to day basis, on hundreds if not thousands of people.

In my last meeting with the cardiac surgeon, before surgery, he was actually pretty upbeat – stating that he had done more than 30,000 similar surgeries.  This was shocking – “30,000.”  Then you start thinking maybe he will get bored with this particular operation, maybe lose focus and start thinking about playing golf later that day; or even worse – nod off during the procedure.  He said that my surgery had a 99% chance of success and a complete recovery.  I didn’t say it, but my immediate thought was:  What about the other 1%?  I did say “that sounds pretty good.”  He smiled and went on his way.

What is odd, from my perspective, is that he never asked anything about me.  My wife was there so he knew I had family; but he asked nothing about me personally:  What do you do in life?  Are you retired?  Do you have kids, grandkids?  Hobbies?  A dog?  I guess he knew everything about me that he cared to know from the various x-rays, blood tests, my DOB, and my overall physical appearance.  I was just number 30,002 as far as he was concerned.  A few weeks later I went to his office for a follow-up, but he had an emergency surgery so my wife and I just talked to his nurse – who, incidentally, was quite nice.

What does this have to do with religion?  Well, I said a little prayer while they were wheeling me down to surgery.  I did not ask for a successful surgery – too presumptuous.  And what I did say (think) or ask from God is private.

In the way of full disclosure, I’m not what you would consider a religious person.  I consider myself an agnostic.  I don’t know if there is a God.  I don’t know that there isn’t a God.  Those who have an established religious faith – I say ‘good for you;’ but, as far as I’m concerned no one knows with absolute certainty there is a God.  That said, no one, including self-avowed atheists, even those willing to shout their atheism from the roof tops, know there is not a God.  It is the ultimate unknowable.  Someday, that final day, we will know or we won’t know.  But, in the future, I plan to focus on the Golden Rule.  That might be adequate.

Memorial Day is this coming Monday.  Let’s remember… the boys.

True Nelson

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

MY LIFE – I’ve experienced a life changing event.

In the future, maybe more than in my past blog posts, I plan to write about some of my life experiences, people I know and have known, events of note, and general experiences I’ve had thus far.  Recently, I had one of those block-buster events that I must say knocked me back, and that’s an understatement.  It caused me to reevaluate my priorities.  Take a closer look at the meaning of life, and what’s important.

It came on rather suddenly.  I was diagnosed with an aneurysm which was serious enough that I was routed immediately to the emergency room of a major hospital.  As any doctor would tell you, if your aorta ruptures, it’s pretty much ‘lights out.’  Kind of funny now, but my initial emotion was anger – anger at no one in particular I guess, except perhaps myself.

I’m in my early 70s, but I lived a fairly healthy life.  I don’t drink or smoke.  I’m generally careful about what I eat.  I was not what you might consider overweight.  I exercise and belong to a gym.  It’s silly to think that way, but my initial impression was ‘this just isn’t fair.’  Of course, I’m fully aware that one of the basic tenets of life is that life is never fair.  Stupid of me to even think otherwise – even as a passing thought.  Look around your local community.  Look around the world.  That I had such a thought, even momentarily, now embarrasses me.

Eight days in the hospital – replaced a portion of my aorta, a new heart valve, and one bypass.  It’s been nearly eight weeks post-surgery.  Recovery, at times, has been a bumpy road.  I’ve lost quite a bit of weight.  I now weigh what I did in high school; but look, of course, much worse than I did in high school.  I now resemble a plucked, anorexic chicken.  I won’t be prancing around the beach in my Speedo any time soon.  (Actually I don’t have a Speedo, and haven’t had one since the HS swimming team.  And my friends would surely opine ‘thank god for that.’)

I’m in a cardiac rehab program and making progress.  The Doc said I could try golf again after three months.  I’m a little worried about my golf game.  But, friends have assured me not to worry, that my golf game never amounted to much anyway.  It’s great to have friends willing to offer support when you’re really feeling down.

I’m going to write more about my life and how it has evolved.  It’s been quite a ride.  Some of you might enjoy reading this.  Well, maybe not, but I plan to write about it anyway.  It’s part of my therapy.

True Nelson

Friday, May 12, 2017

FBI Director James Comey; His Termination; Justified: Yes

I have some comments regarding the sudden termination of James Comey, FBI Director.  It seemed pretty clear that Director Comey had to go.  I do not, however, agree with the manner in which he was given his walking papers.  Ham-fisted.  You just don’t treat people that way.  But the President just doesn’t seem to get it.

I understand why a President, any President, under the given circumstances, would have ‘fired’ Comey.  The Director seems to have let his ego overwhelm his judgement.  I listened to all of his recent testimony before the Senate Committee; and it made me cringe.  He was loving the limelight, basking in the attention.  It was too obvious.  His statement, in consideration that he might have influenced the Presidential election in some way, had made him “mildly nauseous,” well he made me mildly nauseous.  An FBI Director simply does not talk that way.  My opinion.

Now, I must say that Comey, as I understand it, was fairly well liked in the Bureau.  Generally speaking, most who have worked with him consider him to be a good and decent man – intelligent, personable, and well versed in the law.  But those qualities do not necessarily make a good Director of the FBI.

His inevitable downfall began with his ‘prosecutive opinion’ regarding Hillary Clinton.  At that point, he apparently decided to assert his primacy over the Attorney General’s Office which is, theoretically at least, his superior.  His determination that Hillary Clinton should not be prosecuted – after describing in some detail how she was undoubtedly in violation of Federal Law – was something of a shock to those who have worked in federal law enforcement.  He stated that there was no indication of “intent.’  When the relevant statutes protecting classified information do not, for the most part, require establishing ‘intent.’  Hillary Clinton violated the law – pure and simple.  Comey should have turned that information over to the Department of Justice for them to make the decision as to whether or not they were willing to prosecute, and if not why not.

Summation:  Hillary Clinton was either ‘off the chart’ ignorant of how to handle classified information, or she purposely defied the law – feeling, I suppose, that she was above the mundanity of such laws.  I believe the latter.

After exonerating her, Comey was later trapped attempting to explain to Congress and the American public why the FBI had to reopen the investigation of Hillary, and her errant emails, right before the Presidential election.  The Weiner computer.  Whoops.  Last straw.

And, what was the genesis of all this?  Well, of course, it was the private meeting of the Master Manipulator Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the tarmac where, according to Lynch, they discussed grandchildren and golf.  How stupid do they think we are?

Sorry Mr. Comey but you allowed yourself to become collateral damage of that meeting.  It’s best that you move on.

True Nelson

Monday, March 13, 2017

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge 'Takeover' / Second Trial Convictions / My Thoughts

I’ve always had this tendency to bristle whenever someone, who has never been in law enforcement or worked in the judicial system, lays that old saw on me:  Justice isn’t always just.  But, of course, they’re right.  It’s sort of a bitter pill to swallow when you’ve dedicated a portion of your life to that profession.

Nonetheless, this brings me to the article by Maxine Bernstein in The Oregonian (March 12, 2017) –“Prosecutors Reflect on Refuge Takeover Trials.”  This article pertains to the second trial in the unlawful takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon by ‘armed occupiers.’

The ‘occupation,’ the ‘armed standoff,’ began in January of 2016; and ended with one of the ‘occupiers’ being shot and killed by Oregon State Police.  There was, as noted, an earlier trial of the principals, the leadership, in that stand-off.  All the defendants in the first trial (Ammon Bundy et al) were acquitted.

Ms. Bernstein asked U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams – why the U.S. Attorney’s office pursued a second trial of lesser involved defendants when the first trial of the leadership ended in acquittals.

Williams said that the “decision to continue to pursue felony conspiracy charges against the lesser-known defendants, after last fall’s acquittal of occupation leader Ammon Bundy and six other key figures, was made between his office and Justice officials.”

And you might ask:  What’s the motivations behind that decision?  Well, there are a couple of possible explanations.

  1. An ‘occupier,’ Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum was killed during the ‘stop’ by Oregon State Police and the FBI.  Finicum’s wife is suing the Federal government charging ‘excessive force and wrongful death,’ among other things.  She is asking for $5 million in damages for herself and for each of her 12 children.  Federal lawyers do not want to go into court and attempt to fight those charges when no one was actually convicted of a crime - principally the big seven leaders of the ‘occupation.’  It was imperative, therefore, that the government win at least some convictions and be able to trot-out some actual evidence of criminal behavior, even if those persons convicted played more minor roles.
  2. Furthermore, the U.S. Attorney’s office admitted that the acquittals in the first trial (the big seven) was an “excruciating” defeat.  And, there could be an element of ‘saving face’ involved for the U.S. Attorney, the Department of Justice in D.C., and the FBI.
  3. The U.S. Attorney might also allude to a responsibility for pursuing prosecutions that are owed to the citizens of Burns and Harney County who were inconvenienced in many ways.  But, I don’t think that aspect was given much weight.

When Williams was additionally asked how he accepted the two significantly different trial verdicts, he responded that, “It takes two different juries evaluating the evidence and testimony and making different conclusions.  Sometimes, that’s how this system works.’’  No mention was made that the original defendants were ‘overly charged with complex crimes,’ which seemed to turn the trial into a nuanced exercise that the jury did not find understandable or compelling.

But, to many of us, the conclusion is that:  Justice is not always just.

The following from Ms. Bernstein’s article:

Felony charges recently adjudicated in the second trial:
  • Conspiracy to impede employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the BLM from doing their work at the refuge through intimidation, threat or force.
  • Possessing a firearm in a federal facility.
  • Depredation of government property.  (This was interesting.  I thought I was fairly familiar with federal violations investigated by the FBI, but I’d never heard of anything like “Depredation.”  I had to look up the word in the dictionary and found...  “An attack involving plunder and pillage.”  Wow, how would you like that on your rap sheet?)

Trial Decision Results:
  • Jason S. Patrick, age 43:  Conspiracy – Guilty; Firearms – Not Guilty.
  • Darryl W. Thorn, age 32:  Conspiracy – Guilty; Firearms – Guilty.
  • Duane L. Ehmer, age 46:  Conspiracy – Not Guilty; Depredation - Guilty
  • Jake E. Ryan, age 28:  Conspiracy – Not Guilty; Depredation - Guilty

And so it goes…

True Nelson

PS:  For those who would like to read more blog posts on this subject concerning the early 'takeover' and shooting...

January 10, 2016

January 14, 2016

January 25, 2016

January 27, 2016

February 2, 2016

Saturday, March 4, 2017

President Donald Trump accuses Barrack Obama administration of ‘bugging’ the offices of Candidate Trump prior to the Election

A very interesting development – explosive in a way – President Donald Trump has accused the Obama administration of placing a ‘wire-tap’ on the offices of candidate Donald Trump – weeks before the election.

In response, Barrack Obama has quickly and formally denied involvement in any such efforts – which could potentially be considered illegal.

But, don’t be too quick to dismiss this as a Trump fantasy.

It is conceivable that the Obama administration perceived or imagined Trump’s suspected involvement with the Russians was to undermine the election.  They (the Obama administration) directed a government agency to present their suspicions, via affidavit, to the FISA Court.  This is usually done by the FBI or the NSA – but could have been presented by the United States Attorney.  Permission could then have been granted by the court; and monitoring begun.

Furthermore, the wire-tap process would require the Court to advise, in writing, the ‘target’ ninety days after the program had been terminated.  The timing seems to fit.  This information could have been just now dropped in Trump’s lap.

If true, and we don’t know at this point, someone will almost certainly be 'thrown under the bus.'  Will it be FBI Director Comey or perhaps former Attorney General Loretta Lynch?

Obama will simply deny any knowledge and will have undoubtedly prepared a contingency plan.

FISA Courta U S court composed of a rotating panel of federal judges that sits in secrecy to review prosecutors' requests to wiretap telephones of suspected spies and terrorists and to conduct searches.

True Nelson

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Multnomah County Deputies (Portland, OR) Seize Record Haul (100 pounds) of Methamphetamine

Interesting article:  The Oregonian (Portland Oregon’s daily newspaper; 2/24/17):

“Deputies seized nearly 100 pounds of methamphetamine worth more than $2 million from two homes in Portland and Gresham.”  Guns, heroin and $30,000 in cash were also seized.  Sounds like some darn good police work on the part of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.

Here’s where I have to be a little tactful – you know, in light of Portland’s Sanctuary City thing.  Nothing was mentioned in the newspaper article as to whether or not those arrested -  Alfredo Narcisco Pineda, Alejandro Lopez Gonzales or Celso Marroquin Benitez - were in the United States legally.

Yes, I’m aware that the Portland Area City and County officials would probably say that the citizenship of these three criminals (alleged) is none of the public's business and even to consider such a thing is blatantly racist.

OK, OK, I get it; but to continue…  Let’s see, how did the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office possibly crack this case?  Could it have had something to do with the arrest of Salvador Martinez-Perez, in mid-February, when his semi 'produce' truck ran in a ditch in Sherman County (North Central Oregon)?  And, 'lo and behold,' hidden among the bell peppers was a large quantity of meth, heroine, and cocaine valued in excess of $1 million – likely en route to Portland.  Could that have been a lead?

Oh yes, and incidentally, law enforcement did opine that it is likely, in view of the vast quantity of illegal drugs and other drug paraphernalia recovered in the recent arrests, that a Mexican drug cartel is probably involved.

But, let’s be open minded…

There are probably several possibilities how this might have transpired.  I will present two for your consideration:

1)  The four individuals, mentioned above, are here illegally, have close ties to a Mexican cartel; and perhaps were sent and settled into the Portland area due to the City’s ‘welcoming’ pronouncements by City leaders.

2)  The four individuals are citizens by birth or are perhaps “Dreamers,” by President Obama’s definition – and that said four were on a college sponsored field trip to Mexico, maybe a research / study type program, when they were inadvertently introduced to a Mexican drug cartel.

I know, it’s none of my business what brought these four to Portland and whether or not they are here legally, whether they have been deported before, or why they were here in Portland in the first place; but inquiring minds want to know.  I’d like to know.

The four, and perhaps others, were undoubtedly planning to dump this poison in our communities.  Shouldn’t we know these things?

If I was a betting man, I would bet serious money that…

True Nelson