Tuesday, June 5, 2018

My thoughts on courage: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School & Scot Peterson, the School Resource Officer

I have some comments regarding the shooting, February 14th, at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

I've been thinking about the terms 'courage' and 'cowardice;' and Scot Peterson (School Resource Officer and a Broward County Deputy Sheriff) who reportedly failed to act in an effort to neutralize the killer Nikolas Cruz.

Deputy Peterson has been mercilessly criticized by innumerable people, including the President of the United States, for his (Peterson's) perceived cowardice in his delay and the failure to engage Cruz before the shooter could kill other students and faculty.

I can't specifically address Peterson's actions or lack there of. I don't know all the details. I'm aware there was a lot of confusion, lack of information, a break down in the command and control system, a fire alarm was blaring; and Peterson reportedly hesitated – uncertain what to do. There were, subsequently, 17 deaths and 17 non-fatal injuries. Some children and faculty might have been saved if Peterson had entered the building – and, at the very least, drawn the attention of Cruz.

I must say, that if I was the parent of a child killed or injured, I'm not sure that I could ever forgive Peterson. Whether or not that sentiment would be properly directed, I'm not certain. Many could / should share the blame including the FBI - and many others not prominently identified are potentially at fault.

But, this is about courage. I guess I object, perhaps am disheartened, that so many are quick to call Peterson a coward. Moreover, the loudest voices are usually those with the least credibility, those who have never been really tested. The most cringe-worthy individual, condemning Peterson as a “coward,” was President Trump – who, let's be honest here, has probably never done anything remotely courageous in his entire life – unless you are willing to include public speaking in your assessment. And, before you write me off as just another kook, one of those liberals searching for a way to criticize the President, I'm actually fairly conservative and agree with many of Trump's policies. However, as we know, President Trump isn't one to be particularly circumspect about his comments, even when those comments might be needlessly hurtful.

A rhetorical question: Would those who have been personally involved in the most dangerous imaginable combat or arrest situations criticize a fellow participant or comrade if they hesitated or froze at a critical moment? Perhaps, in a constructive way. But, would they call him a 'coward?' I don't think so. All of us have a point where we will break – doesn't matter who you are. Those who have true, even what is perceived to be unlimited, courage in the face of death understand this better than anyone.

I understand that Peterson had been 'trained' in what to do during a school shooting. Yes, I suppose. How good that training was, in view of what occurred, well... it's doubtful.

My son is in law enforcement and has received recent training in school shooting scenarios. From my perspective, the training has been simplified and rightfully so. Advance orders have been given.

'The orders are go, go, go! Don't worry about a perimeter, backup, coordinating with headquarters, etc. Even if you are on your own, you enter and attempt to engage the shooter.  Good luck and God bless.  Those are your orders.'

True Nelson

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Robert Mueller, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page: How Long to Live This Down?

My previous post about James Comey was perhaps too succinct; perhaps too flip.  We’re all getting tired of this.  I understand.  But, I’d like to elaborate just a little on Comey and others.

James Comey:  Maybe many in the public don’t see it; but Comey appears chokingly sweet.  Whoa, what?  Listen to him.  He projects this little boy wide-eyed innocence – ‘feel sorry for me’ – ‘don’t be so mean.’  It just goes on and on.  He never stops.  Yes, Trump was unprofessional in the way he terminated Comey.  That’s Trump.  OK, but please Mr. Comey stop whining about it.

Robert Mueller:  Didn’t think it at the time, but former (perhaps current) FBI Agents must now wish that the ‘Special Counsel,’ investigating the so-called ‘Russian Collusion Probe,’ was anyone but a former FBI Director. Mueller reportedly had a remarkable career in the FBI.  But, presently, he is getting too much, often negative, exposure; and this does not bode well for the Bureau’s reputation.  His dead-pan countenance.  Has anyone ever seen him smile?  The plodding, directionless nature of this Russian Collusion inquiry.  Please Mr. Mueller just get on with it.  How about just a formalized statement of what you’re investigating, and where you’re going?  A prima facie case perhaps.  Yes, you’ve got a couple of indictments.  But, explain the relevance.  Is it just to get one person to ‘rat-out’ another?  When Director of the FBI, you would have chewed-out any Agent who morphed into some kind of dream state with no discernable end-game in an important case.  When I was in the FBI, we had to post active investigations on a monthly basis – with stated progress.  What about your guys?  Are you pushing hard enough?  Can you give us a hint where you are going with this?

Andrew McCabe:  Well, he was ‘fired’ as we all know – for ‘being less than candid’ (lying) during an FBI official interview.  And, yes his FBI retirement will be somewhat impacted; but he will still get a federal retirement; and he will be better off in that regard than most of us.  Some media giant or major corporation will give him a top, exceedingly overpaid, corporate security position.  It will be interesting to see if the Former Agents' Society will accept his application.  That may depend on whether or not he spends time in prison – usually a reason for rejection.

Peter Strzok and Lisa Page:  I’m sorry to say that their names, thanks to the internet, will live in infamy – much like Monica Lewinsky.  If I was Mr. Strzok, I would already be at my local courthouse applying for a name change.  Lisa will marry someday, maybe, and have her name changed – but certainly not to Strzok.  All I can say is what were you two thinking to be communicating, in the manner you did, over a government system?

Can the rarified air of top management in the FBI give one the impression that they are above the mundane; and therefore immune from criticism, from consequences?  Sorry, just bad luck that Trump was elected.  Of course, Hillary would have let it slide.  Trump, damn, who would have thought?

Sunday, April 29, 2018

James Comey, former Director of the FBI, a Big Sissy

James Comey, former Director of the FBI... fired by President Trump.

“Everybody’s talking at me / I don’t hear a word they’re saying / Only the echoes of my mind."

Harry Nilsson           or perhaps James Comey

Because I was once in the FBI, I'd estimate that I am about ten percent more interested than the average citizen in recent events involving James Comey.

So, what do I think…

I didn’t like how Comey was fired by Trump – just was handled very poorly.  On the other hand, it was undeniably justified.  I’m not going to rehash my opinion on that.  See hyperlink below.

And now, all of Comey’s interviews, his book tour, his rationalizations as to whether or not a ‘leak’ is actually a ‘leak?’  And, how suddenly his ‘leak’ to the New York Times (through a friend) has evolved into nothing more than an entry in his (Comey’s) personal diary? Say what?  Obscure, convoluted don’t you think?  I do.  Believable?  I don’t think so.

I never worked for James Comey.  But, through the grapevine, he was reportedly well liked in the Bureau.

And now, what do they (former and current Agents) think of him?  It is damage control - as far as I can tell.

What do I think of him?  Well...

Quite frankly, the more he talks, the more he rationalizes, the more he just sounds and acts like a big sissy, a cry baby.  Plain talk here. This will be his legacy.  We’ll see if he actually ends up going to jail.  I hope not.  Why?  Well, in part, he’s a big sissy.  As you know, that'd be tough.

Friday, March 16, 2018

"Before You Know It" a book by John Bargh, Phd

I occasionally recommend a book I’ve read, but this is not one of those occasions.  John Bargh, PhD, latest effort is ‘Before You Know It /The unconscious reasons we do what we do.’  Well, I got through about 50 pages or so.  The introduction was rather interesting.  Then…

Maybe, I’m overly sensitive.  But, Bargh quickly launched into his half-baked assertion that liberals are genetically programed to be more unafraid, (courageous) if you will, than those who are more politically inclined to be conservative.  He has based his findings on a dubious lab experiment involving volunteers, presumably college students, who were asked to imagine they had super-powers which precluded them from harm.  I know, it does sound silly.  It is.  It’s ridiculous.

The immediate question that came to my mind was:  Dr. Bargh, in your whole life, and as a self-avowed political liberal, what have you ever done that was the least bit courageous?

Some quotes regarding his experiences:

“New York was overwhelming to me:  so many people, so much traffic, so much going on to pay attention to.”  “One morning, I stepped out of my office building, wended my way through the crowds on the street, looking in every direction at street crossings…”  “… often needed to react to dangerous situations immediately.”  “I benefited from these unconscious skills firsthand when I stepped off a curb on the way back to my apartment, and was nearly hit by a bicycle whizzing the wrong way down that one way street.”  “Reflexive, automatic mechanisms (or instincts) for physical safety had protected me…”

Yes, indeed, this guy knows about dangerous situations and courage.  My gosh, he could have been hit by a bicycle.

Well, I don’t have a PhD.  Although, I have experienced danger and have witnessed first-hand what I consider to be real courage.  And, I do have my life experiences to draw upon – not merely some lab experiment involving confused, immature college kids.

Furthermore, my son has spent a career in military ‘Special Ops.’  And, I’ve met several of his friends in like capacity.  They know danger, of that I can assure you.

Isn’t it interesting that those in law enforcement and those in the military who have faced actual, life-threatening danger and incredible sacrifice are, for the most part, politically conservative?  If, in some way, these particular individuals can appear occasionally wary or guarded, isn’t it possible that they know more about potential danger than some college student.

And, isn’t it possible that these same individuals, upon dodging a bicycle would not even give it a second thought?  Much less include in their memoirs.

True Nelson

Saturday, January 20, 2018

'A Message to Garcia' – a little book - a must read.

Andrew Rowan

My son, a retired military officer, asked if I had read a ‘small’ book by Elbert Hubbard called “A Message to Garcia.”  He loaned me a copy (originally published in 1899) and stated that said book had been reprinted more times than any other book – with the possible exception of the Bible.

Well, that intrigued me because to the best of my recollection I had not only never read it, but also had not heard of it.  The book is about Lieutenant Andrew Rowan (1857 – 1943) and a dangerous mission he was given by President William McKinley (during the Spanish American War) to deliver a critical message to General Calixto Garcia, a leader of the guerilla fighters in Cuba that were friendly to the United States.

I did some research; and it is true that the book has been reprinted tens-of-thousands of times, perhaps millions.  The account of Lieutenant Rowan’s military accomplishment in the book was somewhat less than accurate, but his efforts reportedly were courageous nonetheless.  Such is the genesis of legend.

I read the book three times to insure that I understood the book's meaning, its ‘message.’  That didn’t take long.  As noted above, it was a small book.

The copy loaned to me had a section titled “Publisher’s Note,” and another section titled “Apologia” which was written by Hubbard and in which he explained how he came to write “A Message to Garcia.”  Both sections were important from a contextual perspective.

The actual physical ‘message’ or communique delivered by Rowan, if known, is not particularly relative.  The manner in which Rowan delivered the ‘message’ was the story.  However, if you’re looking for a detailed account of how Lieutenant Rowan surreptitiously entered Cuba, how he navigated the rugged Cuban mountains, evaded capture by the enemy and ultimately located General Garcia, you will be disappointed.

The book is, to sum up, about ‘grit’ or in other words, strength of character.  The story reflects the stoic manner in which Lieutenant Rowan accepted the dangerous mission, reportedly without reservations or question.

And then, Hubbard goes on to expand the theme for the potential benefit of each us – whether our superiors / employers are in the military or industry - or the neighborhood grocery.

"I know one man of really brilliant parts who has not the ability to manage a business of his own, and yet is absolutely worthless to anyone else, because he carries with him constantly the insane suspicion that his employer is oppressing him or intending to oppress him.  He cannot give orders, and will not receive them.  Should a message be given him to take to Garcia, his answer would probably be, Take it yourself!"

True Nelson

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Motion Picture ‘THE POST’ starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. I don’t plan to see it. My thoughts.

There seems to be a lot of generated buzz about the new motion picture, ‘The Post.’  I do like Tom Hanks in almost anything he does, but I just don’t think so – not this time.  I’ll save my nine or ten bucks.

The movie is about, what has come to be called, the Pentagon Papers.  This story was exploding about the time I was becoming a new FBI Agent – 1971.  I had just left military service.

Even the premise for the movie, whether or not the New York Post should publish top secret classified documents misappropriated (stolen) by Daniel Ellsberg (a Vietnam anti-war activist) in their newspaper, is less than factual.  The story regarding the Pentagon Papers was originally published in the New York Times and the New York Times received a Pulitzer Prize for their journalistic efforts.

What were the Pentagon Papers about?  In summary, it documented how the U.S. government, under various Presidents (Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon) lied to the American people about motives for the war, military conditions relevant to the war to include personnel losses and mission miscalculations.

Is this a movie review?  No.  That would require me seeing the movie.

I just want to say that said movie is apparently one more creative effort to make a considerable profit; as well as to minimize (perhaps unintentionally), the sacrifices made by our military.

If you watched Ken Burns’ ‘Vietnam’ on PBS, you’ve pretty much heard the whole story.  Yes, many in the military died in vain.  Yes, the government lied to all of us; and many American soldiers, as well as innumerable Vietnamese; died needlessly.  But this does not in any way diminish the courage, sacrifice, honor and bravery of our military personnel who were killed or suffered grievous injuries.  Let’s all remember that.  Does the motion picture community still have to make more money off of this?

Moreover, I don’t particularly want to have to hear how courageous the management at the Washington Post were back then - as depicted by Hanks and Streep.  For ‘gosh sakes,’ the story had already been in the New York Times.

Cliff Hanger:  Will the Post be sued?  Will they have to go to jail?  Nope.  Now you know the ending.  The movie is simply contrived nonsense.

True Nelson

Friday, December 15, 2017

Russian Interference in U.S. Presidential Election! “Where’s the beef?”

You know what really gets me is the media continually going on and on about the Russian interference in our Presidential election; but they never seem to mention precisely how the Russians interfered.  As an investigator, I always look for the elements of the crime; elements that can be clearly articulated.  I try to pay attention to the media, but it’s like clarity isn’t an issue for them – ‘just take our word for it, it happened.’

Well, I tried to research it.  And, the best I could find was:

  • ‘The cyber-theft of private data.’  Not clear what this was, or who was involved.  Perhaps, they are referring to the DNC breach (Democratic National Committee). 
  • ‘The placement of propaganda against particular candidates.’  Not clear here, at least not spelled out.  I suppose they are talking about Hillary Clinton I guess – but what propaganda are they referring to, and anyway Hillary was her own worst enemy in placing classified information on her private server, etc.; which we all know now was a crime – to which her best defense was ignorance.  Yes, right.
  • ‘Russians placed fake news on social media.’  Well, they certainly are not the only ones; and exactly how stupid do the Russians think we are?
  • ‘Russians attempted to get into computer systems of local elections officials around the country.’  Apparently, they were unsuccessful in affecting the voting, but nonetheless not good.  Bad Russians. 

That said, isn’t it a given that the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans, the Iranians et al are trying to hack our governmental and industrial systems?  Is not it our responsibility to adequately protect this information?  And, does not our CIA do the same in targeting those countries?  We’re not that naïve are we?  Really?

This reminds me of that old Wendy’s commercial (1984).  You might remember it.  This older woman walks into a fast food joint, something called ‘Big Bun Burger.’  She was served this giant bun, looks inside and loudly proclaims:  “Where’s the beef?”

Isn’t this what we are being fed by the media – a giant bun?  Isn’t this what we should ask ourselves every time the media brings up ‘Russian interference?’  Where’s the beef?

Incidentally, the older lady that used that Wendy’s catchphrase so effectively was Clara Peller (1902-1987), manicurist and sometimes actor.

True Nelson

Monday, December 4, 2017

Juliette Simmons, victim of brutal rape, apparently receives little (if any) timely justice at the hands of Law Enforcement

Article in The Oregonian, Sunday, December 3, 2017:  A Neglected Victim, a Voice of Moral Outrage.

Based on what I’ve read, rape victim (Juliette Simmons) has been largely ignored for months by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office as well as the Clackamas County District Attorney – who apparently can’t put together a forcible rape case without the DNA evidence.

Hopefully, The Oregonian article is not entirely accurate and/or complete.  The article was authored by the newspaper’s Editorial Board.  The Editorial Board was primarily, it would appear, trying to make the point that the Oregon State Police Lab is desperately understaffed, and that DNA tests often take months or even years to be completed.  Therefore, the article might be slanted in such a way to critique the inefficiency of the Lab – rather than evaluate or explain all aspects of the Simmons’ case.  Nonetheless, the article makes our county and state law enforcement look pretty bad – certainly gives them a ‘black eye.’

Ms. Simmons was reportedly ‘drugged, choked, raped and urinated on’ by someone she knows and who she immediately identified to law enforcement.  But it would appear that the Sheriff’s Office has done very little since the rape – which occurred many months back.  The Oregon State Police Laboratory is allegedly to blame due to their failure to conduct a timely DNA analysis.

I would like to remind everyone that it was not too many years back when crimes, particularly rape cases, were adequately investigated and prosecuted without DNA evidence; a technology that had not yet evolved.


Has the suspect been arrested?  Apparently not.  Why not?

Was the suspect immediately interviewed / interrogated in a formal environment?  Did he deny the crime?  Did he implicate himself?  Did he deny having intercourse with the victim?  Was evidence (clothing, urine, etc.) collected from him and/or a search warrant issued without delay?  Was there not probable cause to charge him?

Were blood tests conducted on the rape victim to ascertain whether or not she had been drugged?

Did her medical exam reflect that she had been forcibly penetrated?

Were her clothes collected, analyzed and held as evidence in a future trial.

Did the suspect have a record of similar crimes?  And, is he currently dangerous to public?

Has the Sheriff’s Office kept the victim apprised on a regular basis of the case’s standing?  Doesn't sound like it.

DNA evidence is a wonderful tool for law enforcement, often making a somewhat sketchy case a ‘slam dunk.’ However, that does not mean that law enforcement doesn’t have to work the case, even potentially solve the case, without the DNA analysis (which, even with DNA, does not necessarily guarantee an automatic conviction.)

Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office:  What do you have to say?  Will you let the article stand unchallenged?

As they say:  Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

True Nelson

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sutherland Springs, Texas Mass Shooting – Could it have been prevented? Yes!

Just for the sake of identifying my topic, I will use his name (Devin Kelley).  I wish I had never heard it.  His very existence is an abomination, and an enduring stain on his family and anyone who ever called him friend.  Thankfully, he is dead.

I’ve written many times on my blog about ‘gun control’ and my feelings regarding same.  I feel that most who offer opinions on how to prevent incidents like what took place in Sutherland Springs, Texas are well meaning, but largely uninformed.

There are, of course, numerous elements in our society believed to have contributed to the nurturing and development of someone like a Devin Kelley.  You have heard them before.  Blame is ubiquitous in our society:  the media, gun control, lack of mental health services, traumatic childhood, violent movies and video games; even one might blame less than adequate law enforcement.

Nonetheless, based on my past career experience in federal law enforcement (FBI); local law enforcement (Sheriff’s Office); as a corporate security manager with a Fortune 100 company; and as a private investigator, I will put forth my opinion - my proposed solution - not a cure all, but an important step.

This country needs a 'national hotline.'  A place where citizens can anonymously report perceived or potential criminality and potentially dangerous individuals.  I propose that this ‘hotline’ be a division within the Department of Homeland Security and be staffed by properly trained operators available on a 24 hour basis.  This concept is quite commonly used in large corporations.  It could be implemented on a nationwide level.

How many times have you heard the incredibly clichéd, entirely useless comment?  “If you see something, tell someone.”  And who might that be:  The FBI?  The Bureau would probably cut you off before you got two sentences out – with the comment “contact your local police.”  The local police?  Good luck with that.  Overworked, chances are they would immediately write you off as a ‘nut,’ and attempt to placate you with:  “We’ll look into it.”

Listen, I’ve had a lot of experience dealing with all levels of law enforcement and if someone were to ask me:  “Who should I call?”  I would tell them that I have no good suggestions.  I mean you can try, but 99% of the time it will fall on deaf ears.

Probably the best way to report information is to write it up in some detail and mail it, return receipt requested.  Of course, you would not be anonymous – you’re walking out on a limb; but it kind of puts the locals or the Feds on the spot to take it somewhat seriously.  And, it should be understood that you expose yourself to possible danger (if the subject of your tip finds out) or a law suit (if you caused an innocent person to be placed under undue suspicion or actually caused them harm.)

That said, how will this national hotline work?  Well, the operators receiving calls (or it could be information anonymously received via email or regular post) would have to be extensively trained to sift through incoming information.  The FBI has made significant strides in ‘profiling’ and would necessarily be involved in the training process.  This would be the first line of analysis or filtration.

The subsequent step would involve a national record check to include all federal and state crimes as well as civil matters such as ‘restraining orders.’

Then social media would be searched.  There is information via the net on almost everyone at this point – as we all know or at least should know.  Why not use it?

And finally, any information evaluated as credible would be turned over to the FBI, or in some instances local law enforcement agencies, for follow-up.  Crank calls or repeat crank callers could be identified and filtered out through a data base.  Repeat offenders could be prosecuted in the same manner that bomb threats are evaluated and prosecuted.

The FBI would perhaps require some expanded authority or additional personnel to handle credible information regarding aggravated situations or threats.

We have all this technology available.  All this information available.  Why not use it to prevent some of these tragic incidents?

Would it or could it have prevented the Las Vegas shooting?  I don’t know.  It might have.

Would it or could it have prevented the shooting in Sutherland Springs?  Almost certainly.

Would it or could it constitute an invasion of public privacy?  No.

Almost all of the potential information sources set forth above are now available to any good private investigator.  I can attest to that.

Some might say that the process would be overwhelming to available resources.  I do not agree.  Large companies with thousands of employees use ‘hot lines.’  They are not overwhelmed.  Generally large companies ‘outsource’ or contract for those services which would probably not be compatible with a government program.  However, if the government was serious, it could be done.  And, it would be undoubtedly productive.

True Nelson

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Harvey Weinstein, Neil Goldschmidt et al

I don’t know if you saw the picture of Harvey Weinstein on the cover of Time Magazine’s October 23rd issue - worse than the one depicted at right.  Maybe, Time Magazine's was just an especially bad picture.  Maybe, Harvey is not particularly photogenic.  Perhaps it was the lighting.  Let's hope so.  Most women's worst nightmare - considering the alleged circumstances.

Anyway, I do have a suggestion for Mr. Weinstein.  It kind of reminds me of the downfall and disgrace of one of Oregon’s premier politicians, Neil Goldschmidt.  So...  Harvey, how about taking your money and moving to France?

Goldschmidt was the Mayor of Portland, U.S. Secretary of Transportation in the Carter Administration, and was elected the 33rd Governor of Oregon in 1986.

Goldschmidt was accused of (and he subsequently admitted in a rationalized sort of way) having an “affair,” as he described it, with a 13 year old girl – a friend of the family – which extended over several years.  Many prominent people, including the future Sheriff of Multnomah County (Bernie Giusto) knew of the abuse early on.

Furthermore, the abuse by Goldschmidt was reportedly well known in political circles.  But, you understand, Goldschmidt was a ‘high roller,’ ‘a rising star’ and it just made sense for many to keep their mouths shut to protect their careers.

Neil’s ‘indiscretion,’ all came out in the end, documented in articles in the Willamette Week newspaper – a local weekly publication.

Nigel Jaquis, a Willamette Week reporter, based on rumors, followed up on the story years later; and subsequently won a Pulitzer Prize for ‘investigative journalism.’  This was several years after the abuse had ended.  And, Elizabeth (the victim) at that point, well into adulthood, cooperated with the reporter.  She advised that Goldschmidt had paid her money to keep quiet.  She named people who knew. Everything unraveled.

Sadly, Elizabeth later drifted into alcohol and drug abuse and died at a young age.  The ‘statute of limitations’ protected Goldschmidt from prosecution.

I understand Goldschmidt (maybe I’m wrong) moved to France and established a residence there.  Now in his late 70’s, he is financially well off and basically keeping a low profile.

The bottom line is that there is nothing particularly new in Harvey Weinstein’s situation (that's Hollywood); and this could also be said about politics.  Does anyone remember William Jefferson Clinton?

Could it be that a principal, inexcusable wrong was that those other than the immediate victims, accessories so to speak, kept quiet to protect their own butts?

True Nelson