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Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Lionization of a ‘Cop Killer’ (Leonard Peltier) by a tax subsidized University (American University, Washington DC)

Most decent people hate to read stuff like this, much less think about it.  It sometimes seems hopeless.  What’s that?  Oh, the Leonard Peltier statue erected on the American University campus in Washington DC.  It’s an affront to all decent people, and American University should hear from us.  But, guess what, they couldn’t care less.

Ms. Rebeca Basu, Public Relations Manager for said University put forth the schools justification:
American University regards this statue as an exhibited piece of art and takes no position on the advocacy movement. As part of a major clemency push by supporters in the final days of President Barack Obama's presidency, a 9-foot-tall statue of Native American activist and prisoner Leonard Peltier has been installed at American University Museum to raise awareness for Peltier's plight and pardon request. Peltier, convicted and sentenced in 1977 in the shooting of two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, has maintained his innocence in the 41 years he's been imprisoned, and his conviction has been contested by leading human rights organizations in the United States and beyond.”
Ms. Basu (pictured above), who incidentally looks about 18 years old, has articulated the University’s position.  It sounds pretty harmless doesn’t it?  Did you notice how she frames her statement to illuminate (exaggerate) “Peltier’s plight” and to minimize the University's dubious motives.
Well, let’s see… ‘Peltier’s plight’ is that he is now serving a life sentence for the brutal execution style murder of two FBI Agents – which Ms. Basu passes off in a very sanitized way as “the shooting of two Federal Bureau of Investigation Agents.”  Almost sounds accidental, doesn’t it?  
Special Agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams were working a federal case on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (South Dakota) – an inquiry that had nothing to do with Leonard Peltier.  As the Agents drove along, their car was ambushed from a distance by Leonard Peltier et al.  The Agents' car was quickly riddled with bullets and disabled.  Both Agents were wounded.  They tried to take cover behind their car and return fire, but all they had available were their revolvers and a shotgun.  They were outgunned and had nowhere to hide.  After sustaining numerous wounds and unable to resist any further, Peltier et al approached the Agents who were at that point unarmed and helpless.  The Agents were shot in the head at close range.  One Agent made an attempt to protect his face with his hand, an ineffective defense gesture of submission; but the bullet, of course, passed through his hand and into his face.

Here are the facts of which you should be aware…  A letter sent to American University’s President from the FBI’s Agents’ Association.  And, just who is the illustrious President (the principal decision maker) of said University?  He is Dr. Cornelius M. Kerwin, aka Neil (and pictured below).  I'm sure he is the one who gave Ms. Basu her marching orders.

December 29, 2016

American University
4400 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20016-8060

Dear President Kerwin:

I write today on behalf of the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA), a voluntary professional association currently representing over 13,000 active duty and retired FBI Special Agents.

We write to express our concern regarding the decision by American University (AU) to proudly display a statue of convicted murderer Leonard Peltier in an outdoor area, and to announce that decision by repeating slanted and misleading claims about Peltiers’ murder convictions.

The message being sent by AU to FBI Special Agents and their families, past and present, and to all members of the law enforcement community, is both clear and troubling— AU has decided to advance the political arguments of activists with little concern for providing all of the facts or considering the views of law enforcement.

The fact that the display is a political statement, rather than simply a display of art, is made clear in the press materials released by AU in connection with the display.  The AU press release notes that the display is “part of a major clemency push by [Peltier] supporters” and that the installation is intended to “raise awareness for Peltier’s plight and pardon request.”

The press release from AU also includes misleading descriptions of Peltier’s case and a variety of hyperlinks to activist groups that have created a cottage industry dedicated to misleading the public about Peltier. The press release does not, however, mention the names of the murdered FBI agents, the circumstances surrounding their execution, or the exhaustive judicial process already utilized by Peltier.

The FBIAA believes that AU should remove the installation, and that AU has a responsibility to share additional facts with students and the public.

Relevant facts regarding Peltier and his convictions include:

On June 26, 1975, Leonard Peltier was involved in an unprovoked attack on FBI Agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams while they were searching for a fugitive on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Both agents were caught in an open field in a deadly crossfire by members of the American Indian Movement. Both agents were critically wounded and then summarily executed with rifle shots at pointblank range, killing them instantly and mutilating their faces.

Leonard Peltier was convicted of first degree murder and aiding and abetting in those murders and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. Through well-over a dozen appeals, twice reaching the U.S. Supreme Court, every aspect of Peltier’s trial has been reviewed in minute detail and his conviction and sentence has been upheld in every instance.

Peltier has been far from a model prisoner, and would never be considered a candidate for clemency but for his status as a political celebrity. Peltier has been punished numerous times for violating prison rules. In 1978, he was involved in an armed escape from Lompoc Penitentiary, during which shots were fired at prison guards. For this post-conviction criminal act, Peltier received an additional seven-year consecutive sentence.

Peltier does not have a credible argument for clemency. One of the requirements for Executive Clemency, as described by the U.S. Attorney’s manual, is that a prisoner has accepted responsibility “for his or her criminal conduct and made restitution to its victims” and that “A petitioner should be genuinely desirous of forgiveness rather than vindication.” Peltier’s supporters, and now AU, have decided to re-litigate the Peltier case rather than satisfy this requirement. AU has repeated the familiar mix of folklore, falsehoods and out-of-context statements that are designed to both exonerate and lionize Peltier in the eyes of the public, rather than show any true remorse regarding the murders of Agents Coler and Williams.

The FBIAA is committed to protecting the Constitution, and we appreciate the right to free expression. However, with that right comes a responsibility to consider the consequences of speech. AU should not use its property to celebrate the man convicted of murdering FBI Special Agents Coler and Williams.”

PS:  One more comment from me regarding ‘freedom of speech’ and the diversity issue on campuses that seems to supersede any semblance of commonsense.

American University is proud to display a statue of Leonard Peltier (convicted cop killer), but would they do the same for someone like General Robert E. Lee?  I don’t think so.  That would be just too controversial and politically incorrect.

To read more details of this case please refer to previous posts:

True Nelson

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Electoral College 2016 / What is it anyway? / Is it fair? / Why do we have it? / and Donald Trump (Conclusion)

Well, it is over.  Donald J. Trump is to be the next President of the United States.  The Electors, selected by their respective states, for the most part, voted as their state designated.  But five Democratic Electors bailed on Hillary Clinton; and two Republican Electors failed to vote for Donald Trump as they were sworn to do.

Get this though, the ‘faithless’ Democratic Electors voted as follows:  three voted for Colin Powell (believed to be a Republican – but maybe not), one voted for Bernie Sanders (OK, perhaps understandable), and one voted for Sioux Tribal Leader Faith Spotted Eagle (pictured above).

On the Republican side, one of the ‘faithless’ Electors voted for John Kasich (Yes, Kasich is a Republican and did run for President) and one ‘faithless’ Elector voted for Ron Paul (Ron is a self-avowed Libertarian, but Ron Paul’s son, Rand, did actually run as a Republican Presidential Candidate.  Apparently, said Elector didn’t think Rand was ready for the ‘big show,’ forgot his name, or clutched under pressure).

A couple of thoughts here:

First, I love that term ‘faithless.’  Where’d they come up with that?  It seems to have some religious connotation – not on purpose I imagine.  Kind of archaic – maybe some history there.  And, I suppose the synonym ‘unfaithful’ has another more modern meaning – perhaps overused already.

Were these ‘faithless’ Electors making a political statement, or were they making a joke about what the Electoral College is or has become?  They will indeed have their fifteen minutes of fame; and historians will remember them fondly as ‘screwballs.’  And so goes are political system.

I kind of agree with the Electoral College system and wouldn’t necessarily support its abolishment.  It’s a good thing in a way – giving smaller, less populated states a say in the process.  But, I think the Electors should be subjected to a significant penalty for not voting as they promised to do.  How about 30 days in the County Jail and a $5000 fine?  That way, if an Elector decides to stand on principle, or to just be difficult, he or she might think about their decision more than once – and, perhaps, make that decision while not under the influence of an intoxicant.

True Nelson

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Electoral College 2016 / What is it anyway? / Is it fair? / Why do we have it? / and Donald Trump

On December 19th the Electoral College members will vote and confirm Donald Trump as the next President of the United States.  And, I must say that most Oregonians that reside in the Portland Metro area have their respective undershorts or panties in a bunch regarding that expectation; not to mention the Hillary supporters, aka liberal activists (rioters) (or as I affectionately refer to them – ‘knuckleheads'), who spent a good bit of their inordinate spare time wrecking a very liberal city (Portland).  Moreover, the majority of said ‘knuckleheads’ didn’t vote or were not even registered to vote.  However, that didn't seem to hold any particular sway with them.  And, incidentally, said rioters will not, for the most part, be prosecuted because around here we are very protective of free speech – even when it includes significant taxpayer dollars lost (in the millions) for property damage and police overtime.  No one was killed you understand.  And, boys and girls (as they say) will be boys and girls.

So here we are.  The new target (temporarily) is the Electoral College.  Liberal activists are hoping that the appointed Electors will revolt and turn the process on its head.  If so, the Electors by showing their disapproval of the process, which they previously volunteered for (including swearing an oath), will as a result throw the Presidential election into chaos.

The Electoral College:

Unfortunately, most voters do not know much about the Electoral College and I’ve done some research that may be helpful.

How is the number of Electors for each State established?

Each State gets the number of Electors equal to the State’s number of members in the U.S. House of Representatives plus their two Senators.  Washington DC (not a state) also gets three Electors.  Each State has a minimum of three – correlated to two Senators and one Representative.  Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories do participate and vote in the Presidential primaries, but do not vote or participate in the actual election.

It is important to note that the number of Representatives to Congress is designated by the associated State’s population – not the number of registered voters and not the number of actual U.S. citizens in the State – it is the population overall based on the census at which time everyone is counted.

There are approximately 2.7 million residents in California designated as being illegal, about 7% of that State’s population.  Those illegals are counted toward awarding California its apportioned Congressional Representatives – even though the 2.7 million are in this country illegally.  For perspective, the 2.7 million illegals are equivalent to approximately 70% of Oregon’s entire population.  So, what’s the point?  Could it be that California actually has more Congressional Representatives and also Electors than it should have?

We live in a Democracy, or do we?

Yes, I understand that Clinton won the popular vote; but lost the Electoral vote.  And, many claim we live in a democracy – so what’s up with that?  Perhaps a technicality to some; but (surprise) we don’t live in a pure democracy.  We live, and have always lived since this Country was founded, in a ‘Democratic Republic.’  What’s the difference?  Well, it’s time you looked it up.  The Electoral College is emblematic of a ‘Democratic Republic.’  Pure democracies can become tyrannies where 51% of the population dictates to the 49% (some have described it as ‘mob rule.’)  The U.S. Constitution, in many respects, was written to protect the 49%, the minority – and that is a standard that most of us would agree is a good thing.  Am I wrong?

To be continued…

True Nelson

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Thanksgiving Dinner at Jake’s in Portland (2016) / the good and the bad / The ‘Homeless’

I know Christmas is less than three weeks away; but I’ve still been thinking about Thanksgiving – the good and the bad - mostly the bad.

This year the family went to Jake’s on 10th Street in downtown Portland for Thanksgiving dinner.  It’s a nice restaurant.  Eating out on Thanksgiving might not be everyone’s cup of tea; but it certainly saves a lot of wear and tear on those who customarily would be required to prepare Thanksgiving dinner at home.

Well, what was it like having dinner at Jake’s?  The answer:  good and bad.
The meal and service were very good.  The meals started at about $40, but I guess that’s to be expected considering the holiday aspect and the venue.

However… right outside the large window where we were seated was a ‘homeless’ woman, huddled under a quilt, trying to stay warm on a cold, rainy night.  She was, or at least looked, middle-aged.  I couldn’t get her out of my mind.  Except for the window, she was not more than four or five feet away.

We were in the restaurant about two hours.  When we exited the restaurant onto the street, the woman was mostly covered and facing the wall.  I lightly touched her shoulder and said something like, “Ma’am, excuse me.”  The quilt was wet to the touch.  She glanced at me and if looks could kill I would have breathed my last at that very instant.  I put a twenty down near her face.  She grabbed the money and pulled the quilt over her head.  I walked on with my family.

This ‘homeless’ woman is not unique.  In Portland, ‘homeless’ people are everywhere.  It is a public disgrace.  The City of Portland has been struggling with the problem for many years, but it only seems to get progressively worse.

The Oregonian newspaper (photo above from the same) did an article awhile back on the subject.  At the time, their research found that 20% of the ‘homeless’ are Mentally Ill, 20% are Chronic Substance Abusers, 10% are Victims of Domestic Violence and 10% are veterans.  I suppose some, maybe many, are on the streets because this is their choice.  I don’t know.  But, there are thousands of the ‘homeless’ populating Portland streets.  Why can’t we do something?  Why can’t we at the very least care for the Mentally Ill?  Wouldn’t that constitute some progress?

Next Thanksgiving, I will not be eating at Jake’s.

True Nelson

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Patricia Hearst Kidnapping / Some Final Thoughts / Conclusion

When I think back on the Patty Hearst investigation, I don’t remember any unusually dramatic experiences – that pertained to me directly.

Oh, I suppose I could bore you with endless stories about what it was like to be a FBI Agent working in Berkeley – in the early 70’s.  It was ‘surreal.’  And, yes, I understand that word is often overused, but that’s the way it was.  It was a crazy time.  Such as?  Well, like following Bill Walton around Berkeley.  You know Bill, the basketball player.  He was a shirt-tail radical at the time, and wanted to get involved some way in the Hearst matter.  I remember he was on crutches and was about seven feet tall – so he was pretty easy to follow.

               Alice: But I don't want to go among mad people.
               The Cat: Oh, you can't help that. We're all mad here.

You gradually become acclimated.  The abnormal and bizarre begin to become normal and routine.  For the most part, the Agents were hard-working and professional; but there were, of course, many exceptions.  There was some danger involved; and it went without saying the potential danger could extend to your family.  On many occasions, I got down on my knees to examine the undercarriage of my BuCar and even my personal automobile – looking for bombs.  There was a joke circulated about having your wife go out in the morning to start your car.  Not funny for most, I suppose; but Agents initially found it rather hilarious.

The days were long and exhausting, nerves got frayed.  Ultimately the Agents’ feelings toward Patty Hearst deteriorated – going from ‘I will risk my life to save her’ to something along the lines of ‘f--- her, I couldn’t care less.’  Most of us just wanted it to be over.

A couple other comments about the principal Agents mentioned in Jeffrey Toobin’s book, American Heiress:

Charles W. Bates, FBI Special Agent in Charge, San Francisco Division, during the Hearst investigation:  The Agents referred to him as Charlie.  I don’t know if he liked that name or not.  My experience, and I had a few contacts with him while in SF, was that he was formal, remote, often humorless and not particularly interested in the working Agents.  During the Hearst case, he spent a lot of time, much of it reportedly was social time, with the Hearst family.  Too much time, in my opinion – but they were, after all, the Hearsts.  Much of this time he should have spent with his Agents addressing leadership issues and morale.  There often seemed to be a leadership vacuum in the division.  Just my opinion.  Perhaps I am wrong.   I understand he had a long and distinguished career in the Bureau.  He passed-away at 79.

Picture above is several of us receiving an ‘incentive award’ for the capture of Cecil Robert Moody Jr., age 29, a former associate of SLA member, Donald DeFreeze.  Moody was wanted for armed robbery and murder.  Charlie Bates is in the center, dark suit, and terrific smile.  I am the tall dude, second from right.  I participated in the investigation leading up to the arrest; and was given the ‘honor’ of smashing down the apartment door with a 16 pound sledge hammer.  Moody was nude when captured, sleeping with two semi-naked women.  A loaded .357 magnum was under the bed, where he could quickly get to it.  Wisely, he made no move to do that.

Tom Padden, FBI Special Agent, San Francisco Division, directly involved in the capture of Patty Hearst:  I knew Tom casually.  He was an older Agent and assigned to the Bank Robbery, Fugitive Squad.  As I recall he was, at one time, with the Portland Police Bureau – and we discussed that we were both from Oregon.  Tom was one of the older Agents who chose to remain a ‘Street Agent,’ not interested in advancement.  He was highly regarded.  The fact that he was assigned or given the opportunity to arrest Patty was not circumstantial.  The arrest was, as I remember, a gift assignment largely based on information developed by other Agents.  However, I don’t begrudge him that assignment.  He was a good Agent.

Monte Hall, FBI Special Agent, San Francisco Division:  An older Agent, I knew him, but had very little contact with him.  He was on the same squad as Tom, and I believe Tom and Monte were close friends.  Monte might have been the squad supervisor – not sure about that.  Tom and Monte were major characters in Jeffrey Toobin’s book.  From what I read, it sounded like Monte may have been a little too cozy with the Hearst defense team – maybe not the most professional conduct, in my opinion.

As I’ve said before, on the inside, the whole Hearst / SLA investigation seemed often disorganized.  I suppose it’s easy to criticize, but that was the way it seemed to me.

For example:  To my knowledge, the FBI never set-up a professionally structured ‘hotline’ to receive tips from the public, as well as to offer a substantial reward.  The public did occasionally call in tips to various FBI offices, but those tips were sometimes ignored or haphazardly recorded.  I know of one instance where a caller telephoned the Resident Agency in the South San Francisco area; gave good information on the SLA’s possible location (which was later confirmed to be accurate), but the Resident Agent failed to write a memo reporting the caller’s information.  I guess he thought the tip didn’t sound credible.  Many of us thought the Agent should be fired, but he wasn’t.  I believe he received a letter of censure.

The ‘water – gas leads,’ when Agents were sent to every residence in the Bay area where new hook-ups for water, gas, electricity were ordered.  The operation became very public – ridiculously so – but might have caused the SLA to move south to Los Angeles.  Was that a good thing?  Doubtful.

I could go on, but what’s the point.  Anyway, I enjoyed reading American Heiress.  It brought back many memories.

Oh yes, in a previous post, I referred to ‘towers’ and that I would subsequently explain what they were.  This is what the Bureau called them and perhaps now calls fixed surveillance locations.  A tower could be an apartment, hotel room, or vacant building overlooking a location believed to be frequented by a suspect, person of interest or associate of same.  Towers could be operational for several hours or for many months – even years for those working foreign embassies.  It was boring, tedious work.  Towers were often used in organized crime cases and counter-espionage.  During the Hearst case, I spent one night in a teenage girl’s bedroom which overlooked the apartment of a possible associate of the SLA.  The girl, of course, slept downstairs on the living room sofa; but she made it clear that she was more than a little irritated by the FBI invading her private space.  I spent the night sitting on the floor and braced against her bed – drifting in and out of some sort of dream-like state.  It was miserable – and uneventful.  When I came down in the morning, the girl’s parents offered me coffee.  They were gracious.  The girl – eyed me suspiciously.  I apologized for the inconvenience.  Another Agent, later in the day, followed-up with a nice gift for the family.  This ‘tower’ turned out to be a one night deal – and was discontinued.

Patricia Hearst Kidnapping:  Part 1

Patricia Hearst Kidnapping:  Part 2

Patricia Hearst Kidnapping:  Part 3

Patricia Hearst Kidnapping:  Part 4

True Nelson

Monday, October 31, 2016

FBI Director, James B. Comey, Reopens Hillary Clinton Email Investigation

Breaking news… FBI Director, James B. Comey, is once again in the 'hot seat.'

First, it is my opinion that Director Comey is doing the right thing by notifying Congressional members of the recent developments in the Hillary Clinton ‘email investigation.’  Moreover, I don’t think he had any other viable choice in the matter.  But, I also believe that he put himself in the box by not following normal and customary FBI procedures initially.  Meaning…?

The FBI is now, and always has been, an investigative agency.  Usual procedure in FBI investigations is to conduct same in a thorough manner; and then present the results to the regional United States Attorney; or in this instance it would have been the United States Attorney General (Loretta Lynch).  Comey put himself in the spotlight for questionable reasons, or at the direction of Lynch, when he gave his famous, or infamous depending upon your point-of-view, analysis of the original Clinton email investigation – and that said case had no prosecutive merit.

Why did he do that?  I’m not sure.  Perhaps, it was a matter of self-assertion (I’m a player too), or perhaps self-promotion (political ambitions.) Or, maybe, it was at the direction of someone in the Obama administration (like the President himself) to take the focus off Lynch and her very inappropriate meeting on the tarmac with Bill Clinton.  If Lynch would have allowed Hillary to ‘walk,’ the public would have screamed ‘cover-up,’ and with some justification.  So, it probably appeared like a good move to everyone, including Comey, that he give the prosecutorial opinion.

But, don’t tell me that Comey made the decision on his own.  I just can’t buy it.  Obama was in.  Lynch was in.  It all seemed so simple and clean at the time – to the ‘players’ at least.

Comey is in a bind.  I wonder how this will all work-out – his career that is.  Now, certain members of Congress are throwing their weight around – saying Comey has violated the Hatch Act.  That is just ‘eye wash’ folks.  Politics talking.  It’s not going to happen.  Comey, as of now, is doing the right thing.  Let's see how it plays out.

The Clinton Foundation is still on the FBI's table.  More to come I predict.

Interesting Presidential election, isn't it?

Fidelity, Bravery and Integrity (The FBI Motto)

True Nelson

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Patricia Hearst Kidnapping (Part 4) / Camilla Hall’s Cat

I never met Camilla Hall or her cat; both had tragic, untimely deaths.

As I think back, the Patricia Hearst investigation often seemed unfocused and disorganized in the FBI’s San Francisco Division.

There were approximately 100 Agents brought in from other divisions to assist, most of them young and, relatively speaking, unfamiliar with the surrounding, radical environment swirling around San Francisco and particularly Berkeley.  We, the twenty Agents, assigned to Berkeley were considered to be the most familiar with the area; and were generally utilized accordingly.  Agents from other field offices were mostly used for stationary or moving surveillances, or in some instances assigned to ‘towers.’  (I will describe ‘towers,’ later).

One evening, I returned to the Berkeley Resident Agency after covering some leads.  I was approached by an older Agent who was responsible for coordinating assignments.  This was rather early in the investigation, and the whereabouts of the SLA members, still at large, was unknown.

The Agent told me that Camilla Hall’s residence had been identified and checked-out.  It appeared that she had left her apartment a week or so previously; but apparently took little or nothing with her except her pet cat.  It was believed that she would try to return for clothing or other abandoned items and we needed to set up a twenty-four hour surveillance on her apartment.  Unfortunately, the older Agent advised, we need someone to start as soon as possible; and he asked if I’d be willing to take the overnight shift – even though he knew that I had been working all day.  I said I would.  He said to get to the apartment as soon as possible, establish a discreet location; and that he’d try and get me some relief about eight in the morning.

I went home to get what I would need – knowing it would be a long night.  At home, I gathered some warm clothes, a pillow and my poncho liner from the military.  I also took some snacks and a thermos of coffee; and an empty plastic bottle to pee in if there was no other option.  More importantly, I had binoculars, camera, a strong flashlight, my .357 and a speed-loader with six additional rounds.

I positioned myself shortly after dark.  I did find a discreet location.  I could see her apartment, but was not sitting directly in front of someone’s residence.  It was a long, mostly uneventful, night.  Cars would pass, even a pedestrian or two, but no one seemed to notice me.  It was hard to stay awake.  This is the nature of real police work – not like in the movies that’s for sure.  I knew, of course, that if I was spotted by a member of the SLA, before I saw them, I would be in serious trouble.  Nonetheless, sometimes, the need to sleep is hard to resist – no matter the circumstances.

Fresh troops, two-man teams, were assigned the following days and nights.  I’m not sure how long they maintained that surveillance, but Camilla never returned.  She had what was dearest to her – her pet cat.  And, in her judgement, there was no reason to risk returning.  As previously noted, the cat died with Camilla in the Los Angeles shootout and inferno.

To be continued…

True Nelson