Monday, July 22nd, 2013 — Good Morning, Stay Safe
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Kelly's possible nomination as DHS meets some opposition
By GLENN WILBURN (Fox News - New York) — Sunday, July 21st, 2013; 9:07 p.m. EDT
NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) - NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly is a potential candidate for the Director of Homeland Security but some groups in the city oppose the idea.
On Sunday, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, the National Latino Officers Association and the Grand Council of Guardians spoke out against the possible appointment in front of One Police Plaza.
The organizations called on President Obama to reject Kelly's possible nomination saying his crime fighting strategies have been racially biased. They also said the controversial "Stop and Frisk" program has reached new levels.
"We need someone who has law enforcement experience but also is sensitive to the civil liberties of individuals and protects the rights of communities – and we can't allow him to take legalizing racial profiling to a national level," said Anthony Miranda, Chairman of the National Latino Officers Association.
However, many other officials in the city support Kelly.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) was the one to initially suggest Kelly as the successor to Janet Napolitano for the position.
Congressman Peter King (R-NY) and former Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, has also called for Kelly to get the position.
Critics to Obama: NYPD commissioner Kelly wrong for Homeland Security
Minority law enforcement groups excoriated Kelly for the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy and its Muslim surveillance program. In a TV interview last week, President Barack Obama had said Kelly would be 'very well qualified' to be secretary of homeland security.
By Barry Paddock — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
Black and Latino law enforcement groups rallied Sunday against the idea of Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly being named to run the U.S. Department of Homeland Security .
"This commissioner has both codified and legalized racial profiling," said Anthony Miranda, a retired NYPD sergeant and head of the National Latino Officers Association.
"We can't allow him to take racial profiling to the national level."
Miranda and other leaders, speaking in front of Police Headquarters on Sunday, excoriated Kelly for the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy and its Muslim surveillance program.
In a television interview last week, President Barack Obama said Kelly would be "very well qualified" to be secretary of homeland security.
Critics disagreed Sunday, citing the high numbers of innocent blacks and Hispanics who are stopped and questioned.
"Citizens' civil rights are being violated by the hundreds and hundreds of thousands," said Noel Leader, a retired NYPD sergeant and co-founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement.
"Why approve someone with this track record?"
Kelly has vigorously defended the legality and effectiveness of both stop-and-frisk and the NYPD's monitoring of Muslim neighborhoods.
Violent crime still going down in city, Mayor Bloomberg says
Hizzoner credits stop and frisk as one key to a murder rate heading for historic lows. So far, 168 have been killed in NYC, down from 235 last year.
By Erin Durkin — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
Murders and shootings are both down 29% so far this year, Mayor Bloomberg said Sunday.
There were 168 murders through July 14 — down from 235 over the same period last year. And shootings fell from 763 to 545.
"That great news isn't isolated to a few neighborhoods – every borough has gotten far safer," said Mayor Bloomberg, who touted the results in his weekly radio address.
Overall crime dropped more modestly, by 2.2%.
Bloomberg said the Bronx, where murders have dropped 36%, is on pace to have fewer than 100 killings this year "for the first time since 1966, when Mickey Mantle was in centerfield at Yankee Stadium."
He boasted that the Bronx and Brooklyn are now safer than whole cities with similar populations; the Bronx, for example, has about the same number of people as Philadelphia, but had 36 murders in the first half of the year, compared 116 in the City of Brotherly Love.
And Brooklyn had 71 homicides — fewer than half the 188 total for Chicago, which has roughly the same population, he said.
Bloomberg has aggressively defended the NYPD's use of the controversial stop and frisk tactic as a key to the big drop in violent crime, though opponents disagree. The city had a record low 419 murders in 2012.
"We won't stop working to keep guns off the streets and out of the hands of criminals," he said.
But mayoral hopeful John Liu, who wants to end stop-and-frisk, disagreed with the mayor's methods. "We can keep people in this city safe and keep crime low without having to humiliate hundreds of thousands of people, almost all of whom have done nothing wrong," Liu said at a mayoral forum Sunday night.
Bloomberg On Crime: 'Every Borough Has Gotten Safer'
The Mayor Credited The Drop To 'Smart Policing' And 'Tough Gun Laws'
By Unnamed Author(s) (CBS News - New York) — Sunday, July 21st, 2013; 5:48 p.m. EDT
NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Crime is at a historic low in New York City, according to Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
The Mayor hit the airwaves on 1010 WINS on Sunday morning and credited the drop to smart policing, tough gun laws, and heroic work by the NYPD.
The statements were part of Bloomberg's mid-year crime update, the Mayor announced that crime is down 33-percent since 2011 and that murders and shootings are both down by 29-percent since 2012.
The shift in crime stats isn't limited to just one neighborhood, Bloomberg said.
"That great news isn't isolated to a few neighborhoods – every borough has gotten far safer. Two decades ago, Manhattan's Upper East Side was considered one of the safest parts of the City. Today, nearly every single precinct in the City has fewer violent crimes than the Upper East Side did back then," the Mayor announced.
Mayor Bloomberg specifically cited the Bronx in his address.
"Consider the Bronx, which two decades ago was one of the most violent places in the nation: In 1990, the year when our City had its most homicides, there were 651 murders in the Bronx. Last year, there were 114 – and this year, murders in the Bronx are down another 36 percent compared to last year. In fact, this year, for the first time since 1966, when Mickey Mantle was in centerfield at Yankee Stadium, the Bronx is on pace to have fewer than 100 homicides," the Mayor said.
And added that Brooklyn was also on pace for a safer 2013.
"It's not only the Bronx that's getting safer by the day – for example, look at Brooklyn. Last year, for the first time since the early 1960s, Brooklyn had fewer than 150 homicides. And this year, like the Bronx, it's on pace to have even fewer," Bloomberg announced.
The address by Bloomberg came the same day that members of 100 Blacks In Law Enforcement Who Care spoke out against the possible consideration of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly for Homeland Security Secretary.
The group rallied in front of One Police Plaza on Sunday morning and voiced concerns over profiling and stop and frisk among other things.
The NYPD responded to the group and said that during Commissioner Kelly's tenure the NYPD has driven down murders and shootings, saved lives, and prevented terrorist attacks in compliance with Federal Handschu guidelines.
The Upcoming Mayoral Election and NYPD's Stop, Question and Frisk Search
Monday, July 22nd, 2013 'The New York Times' Editorial:
To Make a Safe City Safer
Whoever succeeds Mayor Michael Bloomberg will have an important legacy to protect: the astounding reductions in violent crime that began three mayors ago and have continued under Mr. Bloomberg and his police commissioner, Raymond Kelly.
When you think the murder rate has fallen as far as it can go, it drops again. This year, this city of eight million is on pace to have even fewer homicides than last year's historic low of 417, a level not seen since the early 1960s.
The next mayor's challenge will be to meet high expectations for protecting the public — and not just against street crime, but terrorism, too — at a time of strapped budgets and with a depleted force of about 34,500 officers, down from a peak of about 40,000 in 2000. Though crime has been falling for a long time, the trend is not automatic or irreversible: data from this month, for example, show rapes, felony assaults and grand larcenies inching up.
The new mayor will also have to curb unconstitutional policing — the widespread harassment of innocent black and Hispanic men and surveillance of law-abiding Muslims — that has inflamed resentment across the city.
This won't be easy. Still, it's a chance for a fresh start, for new strategies that keep the peace, respect the Constitution and heal the divide between police and public.
While the city under Mr. Bloomberg has not returned to the seething racial hostility of the Giuliani years, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Bloomberg have paid a heavy price for their attachment to the stop-and-frisk program, which has infuriated and humiliated hundreds of thousands of innocent New Yorkers in a mostly fruitless hunt for criminals and illegal guns. It has needlessly eroded community trust and provoked the City Council to pass measures opening the Police Department to outside oversight and led to civil rights lawsuits, with the possibility of a federal court appointing a monitor to stop abuses. (After soaring in recent years, the stop-and-frisk numbers are way down, and yet the homicide rate has continued to fall.)
The Republican candidates, Joseph Lhota, John Catsimatidis and George McDonald, have largely accepted the Giuliani-Bloomberg-Kelly argument that hardball policing is essential to public safety. The Democrats generally have better ideas. Most are ready, even eager, for a new police commissioner, though Christine Quinn straddles the issue, saying she would gladly keep Mr. Kelly but fire him if his priorities ever collided with hers. They all want to reform stop-and-frisk, differing mainly in the intensity of their objections. John Liu calls it blatant racial profiling. Anthony Weiner attacked stop-and-frisk by evoking the Nazis, for which he was sharply and rightly criticized.
Beyond reforming abusive tactics, though, are other issues of police staffing and deployment. Most of the Democrats want to expand the force and improve community policing — putting more officers on the beat to listen to residents' complaints and concerns and stop crimes before they start. The question is whether we need more officers to do that. Nearly every candidate says yes. Sal Albanese would hire 3,800 new officers. Ms. Quinn would hire 1,600. William Thompson Jr. would put 2,000 more officers on the streets by moving some out of desk jobs and hiring new recruits. He and Bill de Blasio would put more experienced officers in high-crime areas, ending a practice of flooding troubled neighborhoods with rookies.
Mr. de Blasio, differing with his rivals, says the department already has enough officers, who just need to be deployed more efficiently. He says he got this advice from William Bratton, former commissioner in New York and Los Angeles and a guru of innovative policing. Mr. Bratton, in an interview, did not take a position on whether the department, the nation's largest, actually needed to be bigger; he said that more cops couldn't hurt, but that the new mayor should do a top-to-bottom review to see how well the force is deployed and to find efficiencies.
The candidates love the CompStat program, which analyzes crime data to swiftly identify and attack crime trends. Ms. Quinn would use CompStat to hold the department to its community-policing goals — to track how many public meetings officers and supervisors attend, for example. She and Mr. de Blasio would also use innovations like devices that identify the source of gunfire, giving police investigations a technological edge.
Not all the candidates' ideas are sound. Ms. Quinn should stop defending the department's deplorable practice of indiscriminate surveillance of Muslims, a clear abuse of power. Mr. Weiner pledges to "take DNA from more arrestees" — a flawed, suspicionless search tactic that the Supreme Court (wrongly) validated in June. Mr. Catsimatidis would get around the stop-and-frisk problem with a technology that doesn't exist: a portable device that would detect a gun in someone's pocket from afar.
The next mayor should do what Mr. Bloomberg did 12 years ago — take a fresh look at old problems while honoring time-tested principles of respectful, responsible policing. The sense of security most New Yorkers feel today is precious, especially if you remember what the city was like without it. Everyone in the city needs to enjoy that freedom from fear — in their homes, in the streets, in places of work and worship, and in every encounter they have with their Police Department.
The Community Safety Act
Friedrich is wrong on NYPD act
By Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 'The Queens Times-Ledger' / Queens
(Op-Ed / Commentary)
Bob Friedrich's July 13 column "Two Council bills will hinder the effectiveness of NYPD" is inaccurate. Friedrich misrepresents the bills that comprise the Community Safety Act (Intros 1079 and 1080), but whether out of ignorance or an attempt to mislead readers, we do not know.
He is wrong that Intro 1080 would prevent police from using race, gender, age or other similar information in suspect descriptions. The language he cites for prohibited profiling, using race or other categories as "the determinative factor in initiating law enforcement action" is already the law, sponsored in 2004 by City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) and signed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It would not change under Intro 1080.
Friedrich alleges the bill would be "another payday for enterprising attorneys," but he omits the fact that plaintiffs would not be allowed to seek monetary damages under the bill, rendering his argument nonsense. We suspect he knew this.
His column is racially divisive as well, arguing that supporters have "chosen to align" themselves with Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn). We are proud of the broad support behind the legislation, but Barron is not even one of Intro 1080's six prime cosponsors.
In fact, the bill passed with the votes of 34 Council members, a diverse coalition that included many white members and strong supporters of the NYPD, including many from Queens.
We have enormous respect for the work of the NYPD, are committed to safe neighborhoods and would never propose a bill that jeopardized public safety.
But we believe that bias-based profiling is a problem, as witnessed by the massive increase in stop-and-frisks in recent years. Racial profiling would be wrong even if it worked, but there is just no evidence that it does. In 2002, with 97,296 stops — which are meant to get guns off the streets — there were 1,892 shooting victims. In 2011, with a whopping 685,724 stops, there were 1,821. Fewer than 0.1 percent of stops find a gun.
This is not just about targeting enforcement to high-crime neighborhoods. For example, in the 107th Precinct in Queens, more than 4,000 people were stopped in 2012. Although the community is only 29.6 percent African American or Latino, they were 84.5 percent of the stops. And nearly 90 percent were innocent and not charged with a minor violation.
From our work with NYPD precinct commanders, we know they can continue to reduce crime — and conduct appropriate stop-and-frisks — without bias-based profiling. We are grateful to the diverse coalition of Council members and New Yorkers standing strong for a city that works hard to keep all its residents safe and treat them with dignity.
The Department's Required Searches That Are Performed Prior to Transferring a Prisoner to Central Booking
Judge Suppresses Drugs Found in Strip Search
Acting Supreme Court Justice Jill Konviser said that despite a NYPD policy requiring strip searches before suspects can be transferred to central booking, in this case there was no evidence that an officer had the requisite reasonable suspicion that the arrestee was concealing evidence beneath his clothes.
By John Caher — Sunday, July 21st, 2013; 'The New York Law Journal' / New York, NY
A judge in Manhattan has suppressed drugs seized in a forcible strip search.
Acting Supreme Court Justice Jill Konviser (See Profile) said that despite a New York Police Department policy requiring strip searches of suspects before they can be transferred from a precinct to central booking, in this case there was no evidence that an officer had the requisite reasonable suspicion that the arrestee was concealing evidence beneath his clothes.
After John Robinson was arrested and brought to the Sixth Precinct, an officer was instructed to strip search him.
Robinson objected, resisted and was forcibly stripped.
An officer found wadded toilet paper protruding from Robinson's buttocks and another wad that was apparently in the suspect's underwear. Inside the wadded toilet paper were a total of 20 bags of cocaine, according to the decision.
In People v. Robinson, 4407/12, Konviser found that police had probable cause to arrest the defendant near Sheridan Square after observing him sell cocaine.
But she said police went too far with the strip search.
"There was no evidence that the [decision to strip search] was based on any particularized facts that led police to believe that this particular defendant was concealing evidence beneath his clothes," Konviser wrote.
"That the defendant protested after [the officer] informed him that he intended to perform the strip search did not, in and of itself, give rise to reasonable suspicion, as it is evident that the officer had already made the determination to conduct that search."
Assistant District Attorney Anne-Marie Whelan represented the prosecution. Robert Jones of Brooklyn appeared for the defense.
The Duties and Responsibilities of the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information
(Not the Person Holding the Job)
With 360-Degree View, Police Spokesman Plays Pivotal Role
By MONA EL-NAGGAR — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 'The New York Times'
In the television crime drama "Blue Bloods," which follows a New York police family, a character named Garrett Moore works alongside the police commissioner, as the deputy commissioner for public information. He is the only one who can walk into the commissioner's office without knocking, and the only one to address the boss without using his title.
John Miller, the deputy commissioner of the New York Police Department under William J. Bratton, said these details closely resembled his own experience, underscoring the pivotal role that the chief spokesman for the largest police department in the country is always poised to play.
"You know the internal investigations in the most sensitive cases, you know what's going on behind the scenes, you know the urgent matters unfolding on the street as well as the potential scandals," said Mr. Miller, now a senior correspondent for CBS. "There are very few positions in any organization where you have a 360-degree view of the Police Department."
The tenure of a police spokesman is often tethered to that of the commissioner he serves. When Paul J. Browne announced last week that he was stepping down after nearly a decade as deputy commissioner under Raymond W. Kelly, questions arose about Mr. Kelly's future as well.
Mr. Miller was already a well-known television reporter when he joined Mr. Bratton at the Police Department, after Rudolph W. Giuliani became mayor. He saw the job as an opportunity to gain deeper insight into a world that he had covered as an outsider.
"When you're a reporter, you've got your nose pressed up against the glass, you're scratching for information, you're calling people on the phone," Mr. Miller said. "But when you're D.C.P.I., all the information is waiting for you on your desk when you get in," he said, using the abbreviation for "deputy commissioner for public information."
Mr. Miller, who also worked for the Los Angeles Police Department when Mr. Bratton became that city's police chief and for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, said the spheres of journalism and government required him to perform similar functions: gather information, figure out how to communicate it and make sure he got it right.
Mr. Miller quit the Police Department as relations worsened between his high-profile boss and Mr. Giuliani. When the mayor ordered Mr. Miller to reduce the size of his staff, Mr. Miller resigned after a little more than a year on the job, accusing Mr. Giuliani of trying to politicize and control government information. Mr. Bratton himself resigned the following year.
Mr. Miller's successor, Tom Kelly, had to work with a staff that was less than half the size of Mr. Miller's.
"Being D.C.P.I. is virtually a no-win situation," said Mr. Kelly, who said he often felt stuck between the equally pressing needs to disseminate and withhold information. "It's the buffer between the public's right to know and the government's responsibility."
Mr. Kelly came to the job after working for several city agencies, including the Fire and Correction Departments, and 16 years as a reporter for The Associated Press. He said those experiences made him sympathetic to the needs of journalists, knowing that while he was not able to answer all the questions, it was still his job to take every call.
"It was 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said.
Mr. Kelly, who is now retired, said he still remembered the first time he visited a precinct station house as deputy commissioner.
"Someone shouted 'Attention!' and everyone came to attention," he recalled, explaining that this was a customary practice in the presence of a high-ranking official. "I looked around to see who had walked in, then eventually realized that it was me."
Steve Davis, a retired police captain who worked in the public information office from 1987 to 1991, said the deputy commissioner's chief task in his time was to quickly provide details about crimes and investigations.
"A lot of the speaking about the local crime issues was delegated to some of the field commanders," he said. "It was not uncommon for a detective squad commander to speak about an incident."
But in the years since, he added, and especially in the last decade, the flow of information became much more centralized. "Other than Paul Browne, I can't name a single person in D.C.P.I. now," Mr. Davis said.
Mr. Browne became the longest serving deputy commissioner for public information, but a very close second was Alice T. McGillion, one of four women to hold the position. Ms. McGillion, who was deputy commissioner from 1980 to 1989, was also one of the few people, and the only woman, to be promoted from within the deputy commissioner's office. She became first deputy commissioner, the second-highest post in the department, in 1989, the last year of the Koch administration. In 1992, she was one of four finalists when Mayor David N. Dinkins was seeking a new police commissioner (Raymond W. Kelly was eventually selected).
During Ms. McGillion's tenure as first deputy, the number of women in the department nearly doubled. That led to a novel circumstance that had never been addressed — devising an appropriate dress code for pregnant officers. At the time, female officers were stuck wearing their tightly tailored uniforms until they could no longer fit in them, at which point they improvised or followed the rules of their individual commands. Ms. McGillion said she made it her mission to find a designer in the garment district who would make stretchable maternity uniforms.
"That was a period when the department began for the first time to really change demographically," said Ms. McGillion, who has since pursued a career in public relations. "Did it help to have a woman in a high-profile job that other women could see? Yeah!"
'One Police Plaza'
Mr Truth: More Blarney at Notre Dame
By: Leonard Levitt – Monday, July 22nd, 2013 'NYPD Confidential.Com'
(Op-Ed / Commentary)
Paul Browne, who served ten years as the NYPD's spokesman — longer than anyone in its history, said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly — had another distinction. He was the department's most egregious — and effective — liar.
These were not small and harmless lies that Browne told. They had a purpose.
His most brazen were related to terrorism — to make a force on the international anti-terrorism stage.
And to a large degree, Browne — known to readers of NYPD Confidential — as Mr. Truth, succeeded.
To understand his purpose, recall Kelly's remarks in January 2002, when he returned as police commissioner and announced that the FBI had failed to protect the city from 9/11 — and then declared, "We feel we have to protect ourselves."
Echoed Browne: After 9/11, Kelly "took the position that the NYPD could no longer rely on the federal government alone and that the department had to build an intelligence capacity worthy of the name."
That begins to explain Browne's now-discredited 16 plots against the city that he originally said were prevented by the NYPD.
Many of them were heralded at City Hall news conferences with the national media present, and with Kelly declaring "an imminent threat," as he did in announcing the arrest of "lone-wolf" terrorist Jose Pimentel in November 2011 for conspiring to build a bomb.
But in reality all these so-called plots were prevented by the FBI, with the NYPD playing a supporting role.
[In Pimentel's case, the FBI considered Kelly's "imminent threat" so far-fetched they disassociated themselves from the arrest.]
Now consider the plot that Kelly and Browne have cited most — the attack on the Brooklyn Bridge.
No one denies the plot was real or that the person behind might have been Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the principal architect of 9/11.
Back in 2002, Kelly and Browne announced that Iyman Faris, an Ohio trucker, had called the plot off after spotting NYPD patrol cars guarding the bridge and sending back the coded message to his Al Qaeda superiors: "The weather is too hot."
Even now on the NYPD's website are the words: "NYPD's 24-hour coverage of the bridge, much of which was put in place following 9/11 and intentionally made highly visible, played a large role in Faris's decision to abandon the plot."
What Kelly and Browne have never acknowledged publicly is that the NYPD was guarding the bridge because of a tip from the FBI.
Nor have Kelly and Browne acknowledged that the phrase "The weather is too hot" came from a message stored on Faris's computer discovered by the FBI.
In fact, according to a Department of Justice press release at his sentencing on Oct. 28, 2003, Faris had attempted to obtain "gas cutters" — equipment necessary for severing the bridge's suspension cables. In several coded messages, he indicated he had been unsuccessful.
That — not the NYPD presence at the bridge — was the reason he called off the plot.
Nonetheless, Browne and Kelly have continued to trumpet their efforts in guarding the bridge as an example of the NYPD's effectiveness in fighting terrorism.
Even the New York Times bought into this, headlining an article on April 26, 2011: "A Bridge Under Scrutiny by Plotters and the Police." The article described the bridge as "one of the more carefully guarded potential targets in New York," with patrols cars stationed at the entry ramps and a police boat patrolling in the East River.
So sensitive a target was the bridge, Browne told the Times, that the department had hired an engineer to study ways it could be "taken down," as the Times put it.
In addition to the patrol cars and police boat, the Times reported that security cameras watched the bride's hidden corners and that maintenance crews had been ordered to notify the NYPD's Intelligence Division before scaling the cables.
How real was all this? Well, on June 26, 2012, a graffiti artist was somehow able to climb to one of the bridge's stanchions 119 feet over the East River and tag his name, "Lewy BTM" in three spots.
And this past July 4th, "a crafty daredevil," as one news account described him, was somehow able to rappel down a water hose from the bridge and safety land atop a one-story NYPD car repair facility.
Still, with his trumped up terrorism rhetoric, Kelly gained public support for his clandestine spying on Muslim communities around the city, in New Jersey and in parts of the northeast.
Documents obtained by this column and the Associated Press, which disclosed the spying in the summer of 2011 and won the Pulitzer Prize for its reporting, revealed that the NYPD has spied on hundreds of Muslim mosques, schools, businesses, student groups, non-governmental organizations and individuals, targeting virtually every level of Muslim life in the city.
The AP's first story reported that the NYPD's "Demographics Unit," a part of the Intelligence Division, had assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed across the city.
Preparing their story, reporters Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo asked Browne about the unit. Browne's response, according to Goldman: There was no such thing as the Demographics Unit.
But there was indeed a Demographics Unit. Chief Thomas Galati, the commanding officer of the Intelligence Division, acknowledged its existence in a deposition last year in a long-standing federal civil rights case. He also acknowledged it had not produced a single lead to a terrorist plot.
[Earlier this year, Kelly acknowledged the same about his vaunted NYPD Overseas Spy Service, in which detectives are stationed in ten so-called terrorism hot spots.
Indeed, the sole terrorism conviction that the NYPD obtained without the FBI turned out to be that of Siraj Matin, who had an I.Q. considered borderline retarded and whose co-defendant, James Elshafay, had just been released from a mental hospital. It also turned out the NYPD paid $100,000 to an informant who egged the two on.]
Perhaps Browne's most egregious lie concerned Kelly's role in the NYPD training film "The Third Jihad," which claimed that much of America's Muslim leadership is part of a "strategy to infiltrate and dominate."
Initially, Browne termed the film a "wacky movie," saying it had been shown only "a couple of times" to police officers before the showings were discontinued.
Asked about Kelly's appearance in the film, Browne told reporter Tom Robbins that the footage was "scraped from another source." He told a similar story to the Times, saying the filmmakers had lifted the clip from an old interview.
Both were lies. It turned out the film was screened to nearly 1,500 officers on a "continuous loop" for up to a year.
Not only was Kelly interviewed for the film but Browne recommended he do so.
Still, many of Browne's lies have stuck.
The Post and the Daily News and New York's Congressional delegation continue to cite Kelly's terrorism-fighting credentials, pushing him for FBI Director two years ago, and currently for Director of Homeland Security.
In supporting him two years ago, Senator Chuck Schumer called Kelly as "the pre-eminent law enforcement person in the country."
In pushing Kelly for Homeland Security Director last week, Congresswoman Caroline [The Gullible] Maloney cited the 16 plots, then said, "He has an exemplary record in fighting terrorism."
NYPD-NOTRE DAME CONNECTIONS. Regis Philbin, a 1953 Notre Dame graduate was rumored to have flown Kelly to a Notre Dame football game at South Bend in his private plane a couple of years ago.
Congressman [and self-proclaimed presidential candidate] Peter King, a 1968 Notre Dame Law School graduate, is Kelly's biggest booster.
And now Paul Browne will serve as Notre Dame's vice president for public affairs and communications.
Pity he wasn't there when Notre Dame football sensation Mante Te'o claimed that his girlfriend, Stanford University student Lennay Kekua, had died in a car accident while battling leukemia. Turned out there was no girlfriend. Turned out there was no Lennay Kekua.
As Kelly put it in a press release announcing Browne's departure for Notre Dame: "Go Irish."
AN EMAIL FROM NORMAN SIEGEL. "You wrote that I 'spent the past year haggling with the Corporation Counsel to establish guidelines to credential reporters.' As I mentioned to you when we spoke last week, the guidelines/rules were established as a result of a lawsuit that was filed on behalf of three journalists (Rafael Martinez was the lead plaintiff.) The meetings to revise the rules/guidelines and settle the lawsuit took about a year but not 'the past year'". I believe it was from early 2009-early 2010. The rules/guidelines have been in effect for almost three years. Also, I would not characterize the meetings/negotiations to revise the rules as 'haggling.'"
Edited by Donald Forst
Woman dies in police custody in Brooklyn
By Unnamed Author(s) — Sunday, July 21st, 2013; 6:52 p.m. 'News 12 Brooklyn'
BROOKLYN - Authorities say a woman died while in police custody at the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn this morning.
The NYPD says it responded to a domestic dispute yesterday near Prospect Park and arrested Kyam Livingston. She was taken to Brooklyn Central Booking, where she suffered an apparent seizure this morning.
Livingston was taken to Brooklyn Hospital, but was declared dead upon arrival.
Brooklyn woman dies in police custody after suffering seizure
Kyam Livingston was arrested after violating an order of protection that her 79-year-old mother had against her, cops said.
By Barry Paddock — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
A 33-year-old Brooklyn woman died in police custody Sunday after suffering a seizure, officials said.
The episode began when Kyam Livingston violated an order of protection that her 79-year-old mother had against her, cops said, and got into an argument at their Stratford Rd. home in Prospect Park South about 12:45 a.m. Saturday.
After Livingston's mother called 911, Livingston, who was highly intoxicated, was arrested and taken to Kings County Hospital, where she dried out for seven hours.
At 9 a.m. she was discharged from the hospital and taken to the 70th precinct stationhouse for processing, then taken to Central Booking to await arraignment, police said.
Sunday morning, still awaiting arraignment, she suffered seizures and was taken to Brooklyn Hospital at 6:40 a.m., cops said. She died there 18 minutes later.
The city medical examiner will perform an autopsy to determine how Livingston died. The NYPD is also investigating the incident.
Staten Island 121 Precinct
Staten Island's newest NYPD precinct is borough's second-busiest
By John M. Annese — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 'The Staten Island Advance' / Staten Island
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- It's only been open a few weeks, but the borough's new 121st Precinct is already the second-busiest in the Island.
According to the NYPD's most up-to-date crime statistics, in its first week of operation the borough's newest precinct responded to 15 major crimes, most of them grand larcenies, and 40 minor ones.
The NYPD is now factoring the new precinct, which opened its doors on July 1, into its weekly crime statistics reports.
Major crimes refer to murders, rapes, robberies, felony assaults, burglaries, grand larcenies and auto thefts.
The new 121st Precinct -- which covers the northwest part of the Island, including Mariners Harbor, Port Richmond, and the area surrounding the Staten Island Mall -- reported two robberies, one felony assault, one burglary, 10 grand larceny, and one auto theft between July 1 and July 7.
The now much-smaller 120th, which covers the North Shore as far west as Jewett Avenue, remains the busiest in the borough, with 29 major crimes reported that week -- five robberies, four felony assault's seven burglaries, 12 grand larcenies and three auto thefts.
By comparison, though, the borough's four precincts combined can't compete with the level of major crime reported in East New York's 75th Precinct, which is considered among the toughest in the city. Though no murders took place there from July 1 to July 7, the 75th saw 71 major crimes, including 26 felony assaults, a rape, and 13 robberies.
Though the city formally redrew the precinct's maps on July 1, the NYPD has taken to retroactively measuring the crime statistics for the Island's four precincts, and has released statistics going back to 2012 for the new boundaries.
(The city's website publishes weekly crime statistics for all of the city's precincts -- including the 120th, 121st, 122nd and 123rd precincts, as well as for the Island as a whole.)
As such, crime has seen a slight uptick -- 1.2 percent -- in the new precinct, though the area the precinct covers has yet to register a murder in 2013. (That same area had two slayings in 2012.)
Island wide, major crime has dropped 3.2 percent, and the borough seen just four murders and 19 shooting incidents since the beginning of the year, compared to five murders and 20 shooting incidents for the same period in 2012 -- which was already the quietest year for slayings here since 2004.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg discussed the city's mid-year crime statistics in a press statement released on Sunday, touting what he called "historic lows" across the city.
"Murders are down by 29 percent since last year, and shootings are also down by 29 percent," Bloomberg said. "That great news isn't isolated to a few neighborhoods - every borough has gotten far safer. Two decades ago, Manhattan's Upper East Side was considered one of the safest parts of the City. Today, nearly every single precinct in the City has fewer violent crimes than the Upper East Side did back then."
The city has seen 166 murders as of July 7, compared to 228 for the same time period last year.
Of the borough's four murders, only one -- a fatal shooting in Clifton's Park Hill Apartments early Saturday morning that remains under investigation -- could potentially be linked to street crime.
Two others are believed to stem from domestic violence incidents, while the third was the end result of a single-punch fight between two employees of a Brighton Heights barbershop, according to authorities.
75 Pct. Anti Crime Unit
Criminal cases in jeopardy as NYPD cops probed in thefts, no-warrant drug raids
The Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating complaints against a small team of cops, accusing them of a range of misconduct including illegal apartment searches and the theft of jewelry and thousands of dollars in cash. As a result, several court cases are in peril.
By Rocco Parascandola, Barry Paddock AND Dareh Gregorian — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
It looked like a slam-dunk case — four men busted in a Brooklyn, N.Y., recording studio with piles of heroin and pot in plain sight when cops from the 75th Precinct came knocking.
One of the men, an ex-con named Reginald Sykes, even signed a confession claiming full responsibility for the array of heroin, crack, marijuana, Ecstasy and ammo turned up in a subsequent search of the East New York digs.
But 10 months after the Sept. 15 bust, what appeared to be an open-and-shut case is in tatters amid allegations that the cops involved pushed their way into the apartment that contained the studio and conducted a search without a warrant, according to NYPD documents obtained by the Daily News.
An investigation by The News also shows the cops were accused in an ongoing Internal Affairs Bureau investigation of manipulated evidence — bringing bags of heroin that were hidden in a back room to a front coffee table and photographing the drugs in an effort to justify the search. And one cop allegedly told at least two of the suspects that they would make the drug charges "disappear" if they could produce a gun by midnight.
Records show the cops in the Belmont Ave. bust claimed they heard there was a gun in the apartment before bursting inside.
The IAB is investigating four similar complaints against the small team of cops, accusing them of a range of misconduct including illegal apartment searches and the theft of jewelry and thousands of dollars in cash. Seven officers are named. As a result, several court cases are in peril.
Sykes, 24, whose record includes prison stints for burglary and assault, admitted he's no angel, but maintained Officer David Grieco — one of the officers under investigation — and his teammates are trouble.
"These cops are corrupt. They should be off the streets," Sykes said from the Manhattan Detention Complex. "They use illegal methods to make arrests. Who's to say they wouldn't do that to a completely innocent person?"
Sykes recalled the gun-for-freedom deal allegedly offered by Grieco.
"He was saying, 'Look, guys, I got 150 guns off the streets last year. If I can get more this year, I'll get promoted and can transfer closer to home. Just get me a gun,'" according to Sykes.
The internal probes are a problem for prosecutors who have been trying to win convictions on the tainted team's arrests, records show.
Lawyers in at least nine different criminal cases have been notified — either orally or through official letters from the Brooklyn district attorney's office — that officers involved in their clients' arrests are under IAB investigation related to questionable searches.
"We take our obligation to notify defense attorneys very seriously," said Mia Goldberg of the Brooklyn DA's office.
Getting convictions is an uphill battle.
"It's a headache for the prosecutors because every time any of the cops has to testify, they have to turn over this information, which will adversely affect their credibility," said Dan Castleman, a former top prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney's office.
In the Sykes case, charges against one of the men was tossed, and another pleaded guilty to a small-time marijuana violation. Jeremias Torres, whose apartment contained the studio, has yet to be indicted by a grand jury, and Sykes is trying to get the charges tossed altogether, contending arresting officer Grieco lied about the circumstances of the warrantless search.
When approached by The News on Saturday, Grieco acknowledged the IAB investigation but declined to comment. The NYPD also declined to comment.
Grieco and many of the others officers in the probe have a history of credibility issues dating to 2009. The officers have been sued at least 14 times since then for allegations including illegal searches and fabricating evidence, costing taxpayers more than $200,000 in city settlements.
The other IAB investigations, which were active until at least April, include:
A July 2011 complaint that Grieco, Sgt. Florencio Arquer and Officer Robert Mayer conducted a warrantless search of a woman's car, then came back and kicked in her apartment door when she wasn't home. But they didn't secure the place, and an "unknown individual" made off with $3,000 and a flat screen TV..
Another July 2011 complaint that Grieco, Arquer and another officer conducted a warrantless search of a man's apartment, then stole $50 from his dresser drawer..
A December 2011 complaint that Grieco, Arquer and another officer robbed an ex-con and his gal pal during two previous busts — of $3,600 cash the first time, and of $1,000 cash and a pair of $229 gold earrings the second time...
The IAB probe appears to be compromising gun cases.
Lawyer Judith Karpatkin said a plea offer of 60 days in jail for her client in a gun case was reduced to a disorderly conduct plea and conditional discharge in June. She argued the search was conducted without a warrant or consent form.
A court filing in a separate case lists five other gun busts by the crew that have resulted in unusually favorable outcomes for the defendants — including three dismissals.
And The News found two other gun busts by the anti-crime team that went poof. One was tossed in 2011 because a judge found Officer Stephen Berardi's story about a 2010 search "not credible" and his warrantless search illegal. Another ended in acquittal after court transcripts showed Grieco, Arquer and Mayer, who declined to comment, gave conflicting testimony.
"They lied through their teeth," said Howard Greenberg, the lawyer in that case.
Homi of NYPD Traffic Enforcement Agent
Moises Martinez charged with murder of NYPD traffic officer Yajaira Reyes
By Unnamed Author(s) — Sunday, July 21st, 2013; 9:52 p.m. 'News 12 Bronx' / The Bronx
THE BRONX - A man has been charged with murder in the death of a NYPD traffic officer from the Bronx.
Police say they found 29-year-old Yajaira Reyes dead in her Walton Avenue home at around 6:15 a.m. today. Moises Martinez, 52, who also lived in the home, has been charged with murder and manslaughter in connection to her death.
Neighbors say Reyes was living with Martinez while his wife and children vacationed in Miami.
Martinez is a livery cab driver. The New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers described him as a quiet man who keeps to himself.
Accused killer of NYPD traffic agent busted after cops notice his lousy parking
By C.J. SULLIVAN, KIRSTAN CONLEY and LARRY CELONA — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 'The New York Post'
The accused killer of an NYPD traffic agent was busted yesterday — after cops noticed his lousy parking.
Moises Martinez, 52, of The Bronx, was charged with murdering his girlfriend, Yajaira Reyes, 29, after a pair of cops spotted him parking with two wheels up on the sidewalk as he allegedly attempted to move her body from his apartment to his livery car.
The officers, suspicious over how he had parked outside 1356 Walton Ave., approached him at about 5:40 a.m., law-enforcement sources said.
The cops at first told Martinez — whose trunk was open at the time — to move his car. But after noticing how nervous he seemed, they watched as he circled around the block and again parked illegally, sources said.
Martinez handled the interrogation with about as much skill as he did his parking. When he mentioned his girlfriend, the officers asked to question her — to which he allegedly responded, "You can't, I strangled her."
Cops found the woman's body in a plastic garbage can.
"He claimed he didn't mean to do it," said one investigating officer. "Then, in his confusion, he didn't know what to do, and thought maybe he'd get rid of it [Reyes' body]."
Martinez — charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter — claimed that Reyes was banging her head on the ground and he put his hand over her mouth to try to stop her, law-enforcement sources said.
Detectives, however, believe he bashed her in a jealous rage and suffocated her, sources said. The married Martinez was apparently worried Reyes had been seeing other men she had met through her job, sources said.
"He's a quiet, good guy, [but] he was very jealous," said Maximo Pena, who works with Martinez. "He told me she was cheating on him. She started working [with the NYPD] less than a year ago and that changed her. He thought that maybe she was cheating with a co-worker."
Reyes had been working for the NYPD in a civilian post that allowed her to write tickets and direct traffic.
Martinez's wife and four kids were in Miami yesterday — though it wasn't clear if they live with the suspect in New York or full-time in Florida, according to Fernando Mateo of the New York State Federation Of Taxi Drivers.
"Moises is known as a very hardworking man," Mateo said. "Co-workers think the age difference between him and his girlfriend put a strain on the relationship."
Martinez has one prior arrest in New York, for grand larceny auto in 2003.
Additional reporting by David K. Li
'Jealous' beau kills much younger girlfriend and stuffs her into a garbage can in their Bronx apartment: cops
Yajaira Reyes worked as a traffic agent for the NYPD. Moises Martinez is in custody after being arrested on charges of murder and manslaughter.
By Ryan Sit, Joseph Stepansky AND Barry Paddock — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
A 29-year-old NYPD employee was killed by her jealous boyfriend, who stuffed her body in a trash can inside their Bronx apartment, police and friends of the couple said.
Cops on routine patrol noticed livery cab driver Moises Martinez, 52, inside his maroon Lincoln Town Car, which was parked on the sidewalk in front of the building he shared with victim Yajaira Reyes, about 5:40 a.m. Sunday.
Cops told him to scram from the illegal spot outside the building on Walton Ave., but Martinez merely circled the block and returned, seeming nervous. That's when police questioned him.
When officers entered the couple's apartment, they saw Reyes' body crammed into a trash can.
A Guatemalan immigrant, she had joined the NYPD as a traffic enforcement agent less than a year ago.
Martinez was arrested on charges of murder and manslaughter. He has one prior arrest, from 2003, for stealing an automobile, police said.
Martinez and Reyes were raising four kids together, neighbors said. The children were visiting their grandfather in Florida at the time of the murder, a friend said.
Martinez had grown jealous over his much-younger girlfriend, friends said.
"He was getting strange," said Maximo Pena, a co-worker at Diplo car service. "He believed she was cheating on him."
Friends said the suspect's deranged possessiveness sparked conflicts.
"They're fighting and arguing all the time," said a neighbor who declined to give her name.
Martinez was well-liked by his employers and co-workers.
"According to the [livery cab] base he was a good, hardworking man," said Fernando Mateo, head of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers.
"A very quiet man."
The city medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine how Reyes was killed.
With Rocco Parascandola
ACLU: Obama, Holder Should not go After Zimmerman
By Jack Phillips — Sunday, July 21st, 2013; 9:25 p.m. 'The Epoch Times'
The ACLU sent a letter to the Obama administration to not pursue legal action against George Zimmerman, who was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin last week, saying that he should not be tried for the same crime twice.
In a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder, the ACLU's Laura W. Murphy and Jesselyn McCurdy, who are with the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office, wrote that "even though the Supreme Court permits a federal prosecution following a state prosecution, the ACLU believes the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Constitution protects someone from being prosecuted in another court for charges arising from the same transaction."
A jury, she added, found Zimmerman not guilty of manslaughter and second-degree murder, and "that should be the end of the criminal case."
While Zimmerman was merely a neighborhood watch volunteer and was not a member of law enforcement when he shot Martin in Sanford, Fla., last year, the organization says that the way to move forward is by strengthening the training of law enforcement to prevent racial profiling and excessive force.
"Many wounds need to be healed in Sanford and DOJ should continue to assist the community by providing training and by working with the community to close this sad chapter in its history. DOJ should also commit itself to providing training and technical assistance to state prosecutors involved in cases where race is seen as a factor," the letter continues.
The ACLU noted that a number of people believe that the Zimmerman-Martin case involved racial profiling, even though there was little evidence suggesting that was the case, meaning average citizens have been influence by the conduct of law enforcement in the past. The points to examples such as the fatal shooting of Amadou Ahmed Diallo in New York by police officers, the shooting of Sean Bell by NYPD officers in 2003, and the fatal shooting of New Orleans residents by police after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
"Problematic practices by public officials can increase the likelihood of bad judgment and actions by private actors," the letter reads. "Further, the killing of Trayvon Martin has touched off a range of emotions across the country and is another harsh reminder that police actions can be motivated by racial bias."
Despite outcry, stand-ground law repeals unlikely
By CURT ANDERSON (The Associated Press) — Sunday, July 21st, 2013; 9:16 p.m. EDT
MIAMI (AP) -- Despite an outcry from civil rights groups, a call for close examination by President Barack Obama and even a 1960s-style sit-in at the Florida governor's office, the jury's verdict that George Zimmerman was justified in shooting unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin is unlikely to spur change to any of the nation's stand-your-ground self-defense laws.
"I support stand your ground," Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said last week.
"I do not see any reason to change it," said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, also a Republican.
At least 21 states have laws similar to that in Florida, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Many are conservative and lean toward laws that defend gun owners' rights. So far, there does not appear to be an appetite in Florida or other states to repeal or change the laws, which generally eliminate a person's duty to retreat in the face of a serious physical threat. In fact, some states are moving in the opposite direction.
"The debate about stand-your-ground laws largely reproduces existing divisions in American politics, particularly between blacks and whites and between Democrats and Republicans," said John Sides, associate professor of political science at George Washington University.
Zimmerman, a 29-year-old former neighborhood watch volunteer, was acquitted this month of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Martin in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman told police he shot Martin only after the African-American teenager physically attacked him; Martin's family and supporters say Zimmerman, who identifies himself as Hispanic, racially profiled Martin as a potential criminal and wrongly followed him.
Zimmerman's lawyers decided not to pursue a pretrial immunity hearing allowed by Florida's stand-your-ground law. But jurors were told in final instructions by Circuit Judge Debra Nelson that they should acquit Zimmerman if they found "he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary."
Before the stand-your-ground law was passed in 2005, the instruction would have read that Zimmerman "cannot justify his use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm if by retreating he could have avoided the need to use that force."
Since the law was enacted, justifiable homicides in Florida have risen from an annual average of 13.2 between 2001 and 2005 to an average of 42 between 2006 and 2012, including a record 66 in 2012, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. FBI data have shown similar increases in some states that enacted similar laws, such as Texas, while others haven't seen an uptick.
Beyond Florida, these states have some form of a stand-your-ground law, according to the national group: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
Attorney General Eric Holder, in a speech last week to the NAACP convention in Orlando, said the Martin shooting demonstrates a need to re-examine stand-your-ground laws nationwide. He said they "senselessly expand the concept of self-defense" and increase the possibility of deadly confrontations.
On Friday, Obama said the nation needed to do some "soul-searching." He questioned whether a law could really promote peace and security if it sent a message that someone who is armed "has the right to use those firearms even if there is a way for them to exit from a situation."
Civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, said they would push for repeal of the laws, starting in Florida, where a group of young protesters occupied GOP Gov. Rick Scott's office demanding change.
"If we can do it in Florida, we can affect other states," Sharpton said last week.
On Saturday, Sharpton's National Action Network organized "Justice for Trayvon" rallies in more than 100 cities. In addition to pushing for federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman, the rallies attacked stand-your-ground laws.
"By standing his ground, George Zimmerman was able to get away with murdering a 17-year-old black man," said Chelsea Jones, a student who spoke at a Dallas rally. "I can only imagine what the black community can achieve by standing their ground."
Even entertainer Stevie Wonder has joined the outcry, vowing not to perform in Florida as long as stand-your-ground remains on the books. Sharpton suggested that the law's opponents might boycott Florida orange juice, and other groups want a boycott on the state's tourist destinations, both multibillion-dollar industries.
Florida state Sen. Chris Smith, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, said the Zimmerman verdict was a "wakeup call" that should at least open fresh debate on stand-your-ground laws.
He noted that in the wake of the 2011 acquittal of Casey Anthony in the killing of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, Florida lawmakers passed legislation making it a felony for a parent or guardian to fail to report a missing child within 36 hours. Caylee's disappearance was not reported for 31 days.
"We are calling for the same type of action," Smith said.
But The Associated Press has found scant support for repeal of the laws in Florida and elsewhere. Scott told reporters Thursday that he agreed with the findings of a task force he appointed on the subject after Martin's shooting, which recommended no changes to the stand-your-ground law. Of the protesters in his Capitol office, Scott said, "I think it is great that people are exercising their voices."
After Holder's speech, the National Rifle Association, which strongly backs stand-your-ground laws and holds great sway in many state legislatures, issued a statement claiming that Obama's administration was aiming more at the broader political goal of restricting gun rights.
"The attorney general fails to understand that self-defense is not a concept, it's a fundamental human right," said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. "To send a message that legitimate self-defense is to blame is unconscionable."
In fact, in states with stand-your-ground laws similar to Florida's, the trend has been toward greater gun rights. In Oklahoma, for example, lawmakers in 2012 passed an "open-carry" measure that allows people with a concealed carry permit to now display their handguns openly in a holster. Other states have sought to expand what are known as "castle doctrine" laws - the right to defend one's self with deadly force in the home - to apply to businesses.
New Hampshire lawmakers this year considered repealing the state's-stand-your ground law, which was enacted in 2011 by a Republican Legislature over a Democratic governor's veto. After narrowly passing the Democratic-led House in March, the bill died in the Republican-led Senate.
Holder also announced this week that the Justice Department would investigate whether Zimmerman could be charged under federal civil rights laws, which would require evidence that he harbored racial animosity against Martin. Most legal experts say that will be a difficult charge to bring, leaving Martin's supporters to concentrate on trying to change stand-your-ground laws.
Republican Sen. John McCain joined the call on stand-your-ground laws Sunday, urging state legislatures to review their statutes - including the one in his home state of Arizona.
"I'm confident that the members of the Arizona legislature will ... because it is a very controversial legislation," he said on CNN.
Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, appeared Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" and called the laws "one of the things that has incited and ignited, I believe, this movement across the nation, which I think is the beginning of a new civil rights movement."
Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said during the show that the question now is whether it's proper for the federal government to tell states with stand-your-ground laws how to change or remake them. His answer: "No. I mean, this is something that's going to have to be worked out state by state."
Charles Ogletree, a Harvard Law School professor who taught both Barack and Michelle Obama, agreed: "The reality is that this is not a federal issue. This is a state issue."
Associated Press writers Kyle Hightower in Orlando and Philip Elliott in Washington contributed to this report.
A Black Box for Car Crashes
By JACLYN TROP — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 'The New York Times'
(Edited for brevity and generic law enforcement pertinence)
About 96 percent of all new vehicles sold in the United States have the event data recorder, and in September 2014, if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has its way, all will have them.
The boxes have long been used by car companies to assess the performance of their vehicles. But data stored in the devices is increasingly being used to identify safety problems in cars and as evidence in traffic accidents and criminal cases. And the trove of data inside the boxes has raised privacy concerns, including questions about who owns the information, and what it can be used for, even as critics have raised questions about its reliability.
To federal regulators, law enforcement authorities and insurance companies, the data is an indispensable tool to investigate crashes.
The black boxes "provide critical safety information that might not otherwise be available to N.H.T.S.A. to evaluate what happened during a crash — and what future steps could be taken to save lives and prevent injuries," David L. Strickland, the safety agency's administrator, said in a statement.
But to consumer advocates, the data is only the latest example of governments and companies having too much access to private information. Once gathered, they say, the data can be used against car owners, to find fault in accidents or in criminal investigations.
"These cars are equipped with computers that collect massive amounts of data," said Khaliah Barnes of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington-based consumer group. "Without protections, it can lead to all kinds of abuse."
What's more, consumer advocates say, government officials have yet to provide consistent guidelines on how the data should be used.
"There are no clear standards that say, this is a permissible use of the data and this is not," Ms. Barnes said.
Fourteen states, including New York, have passed laws that say that, even though the data belongs to the vehicle's owner, law enforcement officials and those involved in civil litigation can gain access to the black boxes with a court order.
In these states, lawyers may subpoena the data for criminal investigations and civil lawsuits, making the information accessible to third parties, including law enforcement or insurance companies that could cancel a driver's policy or raise a driver's premium based on the recorder's data.
Current regulations require that the presence of the black box be disclosed in the owner's manual. But the vast majority of drivers who do not read the manual thoroughly may not know that their vehicle can capture and record their speed, brake position, seat belt use and other data each time they get behind the wheel.
Unlike the black boxes on airplanes, which continually record data including audio and system performance, the cars' recorders capture only the few seconds surrounding a crash or air bag deployment. A separate device extracts the data, which is then analyzed through computer software.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a Washington-based trade association that represents 12 automakers including General Motors and Chrysler, said it supported the mandate because the recorders helped to monitor passenger safety.
"Event data recorders help our engineers and researchers understand how cars perform in the real world, and one of our priorities for E.D.R.'s continues to be preserving consumer privacy," said Wade Newton, a spokesman for the trade association. "Automakers don't access E.D.R. data without consumer permission, and we believe that any government requirements to install E.D.R.'s on all vehicles must include steps to protect consumer privacy."
Beyond the privacy concerns, though, critics have questioned the data's reliability.
"It's data that has not been shown to be absolutely reliable," Mr. Ryan said. "It's not black and white."
The origins of black boxes, which are the size of about two decks of cards and are situated under the center console, date to the 1990 model year, when General Motors introduced them to conduct quality studies. Since then, their use and the scope of the data they collect has expanded.
The lack of standardization among manufacturers has made it difficult to extract the data, most notably during the investigations into the crashes caused by sudden, unintended acceleration in some Toyota vehicles.
Until recently, crash investigators needed an automaker's proprietary reader as well as the expertise to analyze the data. The safety administration's regulations will help enable universal access to the data by using a commercially available tool. At the same time, police departments are receiving training on the new regulations. In Romulus, N.Y., last week, the Collision Safety Institute, a consultancy in San Diego, helped teach New York State Police investigators how to read the devices.
But privacy advocates have expressed concern that the data collected will only grow to include a wider time frame and other elements like GPS and location-based services.
"The rabbit hole goes very deep when talking about this stuff," said Thomas Kowalick, an expert in event data recorders and a former co-chairman of the federal committee that set the standard for black boxes.
Today, the boxes have spawned a cottage industry for YouTube videos on how to expunge the data. And Mr. Kowalick, seeing an opportunity, invented a device that safeguards access to in-vehicle electronics networks. It is controlled by the vehicle's owner with a key and is useful in the event of theft, he said.
"For most of the 100-year history of the car, it used to be 'he said, she said,' " Mr. Kowalick said. "That's no longer going to be the way."
Bill Vlasic contributed reporting.
U.S. Marshal Service
Marshals Lose Track of Encrypted Radios Worth Millions
Loss of Equipment Could Endanger Judges, Witnesses
By DEVLIN BARRETT — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 'The Wall Street Journal' / New York, NY
The U.S. Marshals Service has lost track of at least 2,000 encrypted two-way radios and other communications devices valued at millions of dollars, according to internal agency documents, creating what some within the agency view as a security risk for federal judges, endangered witnesses and others.
The problem, which stretches back years, was laid out in detail to agency officials at least as early as 2011, when the Marshals were deploying new versions of the radios they use to securely communicate in the field. Agency leaders continued to have difficulty tracking their equipment even after they were warned about the problems by an internal technology office, according to the documents, which were obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests.
Some Marshals officials told The Wall Street Journal that besides the wasted money and resources, the inventory problems raise the possibility that criminals could get their hands on radios and listen to them to learn details of security or law-enforcement operations. Such radios are a key communications tool of U.S. Marshals.
USMS spokesman Drew Wade said the agency believes "this issue is in large part attributable to poor record keeping as a result of an older property-management system, as opposed to equipment being lost."
The Marshals Service guards judges and federal courthouses, and it runs the Witness Security Program, which provides new identities and security to witnesses or their families at risk of being killed. The Marshals also seek to apprehend fugitives.
"It is apparent that negligence and incompetence has resulted in a grievous mismanagement of millions of dollars of USMS property," according to a 2011 presentation by the agency's Office of Strategic Technology. "Simply put, the entire system is broken and drastic measures need to be taken to address the issues…The 800 pound elephant in the room needs to finally be acknowledged."Some involved in the work of tracking the missing equipment inside the agency estimated the value of the unaccounted-for radios at $6 million or more, according to documents and interviews with some of the people involved. Radios range from about $2,000 to $5,000 or more each.
The agency concluded in March of this year, after a nationwide inventory in the wake of the report, that about 2,200 communications items, the large majority of them radios, were missing or unaccounted for, according to a document reviewed by the Journal. But several officials said that since then, one internal count has continued to grow to more than 4,000 items.
The spokesman said the agency is conducting its inventory and couldn't provide a number yet. He said the agency plans to buy a new inventory-tracking system, and that many of the radios in question were older models that were being phased out. The agency isn't aware of any instances where "public safety was jeopardized as a result of this," he said.
He said none of the Marshals officials named in the documents were available for comment.
Officials at the USMS Office of Strategic Technology who worked on the radio problem also concluded the radios went missing largely because of poor management and tracking. But officials also suspect some employees may have lied on paperwork by saying they had been destroyed, when instead they had been lost. Reporting a radio as lost requires more paperwork and raises the prospect of an internal investigation.
Several years ago, according to Marshals employees, one of the agency's radios was put up for sale on eBay, from a seller purportedly in Hong Kong. A Marshals employee bought the device, and investigators who examined the device concluded it had been taken apart and reassembled, suggesting it may have tampered with, according to people familiar with the incident.
Newer radio models can be remotely disabled. The agency hasn't done that for the vast majority of the missing devices because senior managers believe most aren't lost, but were given to other law-enforcement agencies or disposed of without anyone keeping track of them, according to agency officials.
This isn't the first time the agency's handling of its property has been questioned. Last year, the Journal reported that the agency had issued government cars to nearly all of its law-enforcement employees at agency headquarters in suburban Virginia, and senior officials rescinded scores of vehicles after concerns were raised the cars had become perks for administrators working in headquarters, rather than aiding any law-enforcement purpose.
Internal emails show some within the agency believed that the problems with the unaccounted-for radios were simply a matter of bad paperwork. Others said the inventory effort was a maddening exercise that would never answer all questions about where the equipment was.
While more than 1,600 then-missing radios "cannot be accounted for today," one official wrote in an email to Marshals executive William Snelson on July 13, 2012, "I wholeheartedly believe that many of these items can be located, or will eventually be found."
A series of handwritten notes by one Marshals employee indicates that after the Journal began submitting FOIA requests, at least one person within the agency discussed the FOIA request and instructed others to communicate on the issue only by phone, not in email. An agency official said that directive was given because the agency figured it could communicate better in person than in writing.
A FOIA request for notes made or maintained by Marshals employee Robert Turner, who oversaw the inventory, produced a handwritten note that describes an exchange over the expected bad press that would come from revelations about the radio problem.
The note describes a conversation in which one senior official declares he is "not going to take the fall in the media for missing radios." The note writer replies: "I am not taking the 'fall' for the agencies [sic] inability to take corrective action and ensure accountability for millions of dollars in missing radios."
Another note describes a Dec. 19 phone call in which the note writer says, in referring to superiors, "it seems to me they are trying to ignore/avoid the FOIA."
The name of the official described in the notes was redacted by lawyers for the USMS, citing privacy concerns.
Another note describes a January phone call with another senior Marshals executive. It shows Mr. Turner and others were being pressed by higher-ups, including the agency's director, Stacia Hylton, to devise a lower dollar value for the missing and unaccounted-for equipment, though Mr. Turner and others had maintained that government regulations say lost equipment can't be depreciated below the purchase price. The spokesman said Ms. Hylton was unavailable for comment.
Crazy traitor leaker got Congress to notice vast surveillance state
Pols from both parties are all of a sudden demanding more transparency and pushing reforms. Thanks, leaks!
By Alex Pareene — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 'Salon Magazine'
There is a guy, a famous guy, who lives now in a Russian airport or something, no one is really sure, but everyone in the media (and lots of people not in the media) cannot stop fighting and arguing about this guy. Some people say he is a jerk and crazy and bad and others say he is a hero and super cool. Either way, mean jerk or cool hero, this guy that everyone won't shut up about is actually responsible for the first major public displays of Congressional opposition to the unchecked surveillance state in 35 years or so.
Congress has always had a handful of privacy advocates and true civil libertarians. But for many years in political Washington it has been considered foolish and perhaps a bit treasonous to suggest that our intelligence agencies are even slightly overzealous in their collection of all information possible about everything on the globe. That is still the general consensus, but as McClatchy's Washington Bureau wrote on Friday, there are suddenly a bunch of members of Congress who actually want to rein in the NSA.
One member of Congress is threatening to use procedural sabotage to sink the major defense spending bill the House will consider this week unless his amendment ending NSA collection of Americans' telephone metadata is allowed a vote. Lawmakers are preparing bills that will require more transparency from intelligence agencies and some are even trying to amend Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the broadly written statute that gives American intelligence agencies the authority to secretly collect business data about the doings of American citizens, so long as the government promises that it's related, somehow, to terrorism.
That section has now passed Congress multiple times. These people should've known what they were voting for. (Indeed, most defenders of the NSA and FBI have made this argument as well: Congress legalized this, so they shouldn't complain.) But some very "mainstream" members of Congress are now making it sound like they might actually consider not extending these essentially unchecked authorities forever:
The NSA is not acting rogue, Himes added. "They are acting pursuant to very clear authority under Section 215 of the Patriot Act," [Rep. Jim] Himes said. But, he said, "that law is too broadly worded and being interpreted a little broadly." Section 215 provides authority for the surveillance programs.
It is not just Democrats talking like this either:
But Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., recalled that when he chaired the House Judiciary Committee in 2006, "I was not aware of any dragnet collection of phone records when the Patriot Act was reauthorized." If he had, he said, "I would have publicly opposed such abuse."
He cautioned the White House that the mood could turn against it. "If the administration continues to turn a deaf ear to the American public's outcry, Section 215 will not have the necessary support to be reauthorized in 2015," Sensenbrenner said. ". . . The proper balance between privacy and security has been lost."
Let's give Rep. Sensenbrenner the benefit of the doubt and accept that he did not intend to give the NSA and the FBI the authority to do what we now know they are doing, even though privacy and civil liberties advocates did warn everyone that this is what Sensenbrenner and his colleagues had done.
Many of the new proposed reforms to intelligence law are small-bore, most of the big ones don't have much of a chance of passing, and most of the most powerful members of Congress are still opposed to change. But this is still a major break from the longtime status quo.
The last time a significant number of Washington politicians favored additional restrictions on intelligence-gathering and surveillance powers was in the immediate aftermath of the Church Committee reports, in the mid-1970s. Since then, Congress has practically abandoned its oversight power over the intelligence communities, and it's only gotten worse since 9/11. Fighting terrorism trumped privacy every time Congress was asked to expand government spying powers. For much of the last dozen years, civil libertarians weren't just ignored by the political establishment, they were vilified. When Democrats took full control of Congress, they still rubber-stamped Bush's surveillance programs.
This is how it's worked: Congress passed bills expanding the government's intelligence powers with huge bipartisan majorities. Votes in the House would have a handful (or a lot of) liberal Democratic "NAYS" against the "YEAS" of every single Republican in the chamber besides Ron Paul. (The Democrats have generally been more consistent on these issues than people give them credit for. Most party leaders and many moderate Democrats never embraced civil liberties, except maybe with vague rhetoric, even in the Bush years.)
That basic breakdown — all Republicans and a chunk of Democrats, including party leadership, always in favor of more surveillance — didn't even shift after Democrats retook the presidency, when fighting the White House on surveillance would've made political sense for the opposition party.
This has very suddenly changed. Now, with Paul out of Congress, Rep. Justin Amash, a Paul-style libertarianish Republican from Michigan, has largely taken over as the Republican who opposes the surveillance state. But Amash actually has a few allies in his party, which Paul almost never did. This is the best political atmosphere for privacy in a generation.
So what happened, exactly? Well, the American people learned a bunch of scary sounding stuff about how much data the NSA is collecting, on everyone. They learned this because of illegal leaks of classified information, to reporters, from the guy everyone is fighting about. Everyone can keep fighting about the guy, I guess, but no one can now say that the guy's leaks were entirely gratuitous. Because before the leaks, people who were alarmed at what the intelligence agencies could be up to were ignored and politicians who had pretty good notions of what they could be up to (or who could've learned what they were up to if they cared to) weren't concerned.
Even the Obama administration, which would like to lock the guy in jail forever, is suddenly talking a lot more about these programs, and promising more transparency, and giving more briefings and explaining more details about intelligence operations. They knew about all this stuff before, because they're the ones doing it, but for the administration all these programs didn't seem bad or worth explaining to people until Americans everywhere learned about them.
Much of official Washington now agrees, at the least, that Americans ought to know more about what secret Washington is up to. They had to be forced into that position. Officially they consider leaks of classified information dangerous, irresponsible and treasonous, but they've also tacitly admitted that they're apparently necessary.