The Malicious Cowardice of
cow·ard[kou-erd] –noun 1. a person who lacks courage in facing danger, difficulty, opposition, pain, etc.; a timid or easily intimidated person.
Cowards, it has been said, are “those who refuse to engage in a good or righteous struggle or those too frightened to defend their rights or those of others from aggressors.”
In the last two years, I have had the distasteful experience of reading and listening to anonymous “experts” who have made it their business to keep two innocent kids in an Italian prison. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are believed by most, including nearly the entire fourth estate, to be innocent and victims of a horrible, possibly intentional miscarriage of justice.
During their ordeal, a handful of vociferous, malicious Internet posters have dogged these two and anybody on the web who had the audacity to proclaim their obvious innocence. I, too, have experienced their vitriol. One poster, in fact, allegedly posted that it was his life’s goal to “bring Steve Moore down” because of my advocacy for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. (Subsequent investigation proved him to be an impotent poseur.)
Certainly, people on the Internet can differ on causes and beliefs, and that’s one of the wonderful things about it. People of all persuasions can discuss and advocate. But the debate can have a dark side. When I worked domestic terrorism cases in the FBI, I would arrest people who had bombed synagogues or attacked people of ethnic minorities. They would frequently ask me as I was stuffing them in the back of an FBI car; “Since when did it become a crime to believe one race is inferior?” I would always tell them the same thing. “It isn’t against the law. But killing
someone because you believe that crap is against the law.” The fact that there are people who (though misguided) post about their belief in Amanda and Raffaele’s culpability, this is not the problem. It is a problem because the rhetoric of these anonymous posters has become malicious and personal. It is still not wrong to disagree with people on the Internet. But when you make it your business to try and harm them or their family financially or otherwise, you have crossed a line. Internet trolls, for those who are new to the genre, are posters who purposely and deliberately attack others on a forum or post with fallacious arguments, frequently ad hominem or straw-man attacks.
These “trolls” (Urban Dictionary: “Troll--One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.”
) from the anti-Amanda Knox side hide behind on-line pseudonyms. Don’t get me wrong, I do not think that using pseudonyms on-line are always wrong or offensive, especially during on-line debate. When people are discussing opinion or debating facts that others have provided, pseudonyms are fine. But when one purports to be providing new “facts,” and attributes these facts to their own investigation or expertise, then pseudonyms are suspect at best and cowardly at worst.
Pseudonyms are fine when one is not claiming to have special knowledge of a subject which would influence others. But, if someone claims to be a lawyer close to a case, a confidant of someone “in-the-know,” or a subject-matter expert, for instance, then a pseudonym is no longer appropriate. If someone claims to be someone “in-the-know” but refuses to provide bona-fides, then that person should be disregarded. No one walks into a courtroom, swears to tell the truth, and when asked their name says, “bluedawn5.”
This is the reason hearsay is not allowed in courtrooms. This is the reason newspapers do not accept unsigned letters to the editor, this is why unsigned allegations sent to police departments are most frequently ignored—its usually not an informant, it’s an angry ex-spouse. Anything is easy to say and lie about when you are not forced to put your name beside your statement. Poseurs can claim an expertise as, say, “former United States Senator” then assert the possession of inside information to influence a political debate. But absent proof, this person is just as likely to be a sweaty, fat, 40 year old posting from his mother’s basement in Teaneck, New Jersey.
Standing behind what you say is in many ways an act of confidence, of bravery, and of nobility. When the signers of the Declaration of Independence set their hand to that marvelous document, they were indeed signing their lives away if they lost the war. Signing it was treason. Signing it took guts and courage. Everyone used their real name. Boldly. And not one signed the document, “fatherofthecountry4.”
In the Amanda Knox case, many qualified, bona-fide, subject-matter experts have come forward using their actual names (!) to advocate for Amanda Knox. Michael Heavey, a sitting judge; Maria Cantwell, a United States Senator; Anne Bremner, attorney; Mark Waterbury, scientist and author; Paul Ciolino, a well-known investigator; Douglas Preston and Bruce Fisher, authors; Peter Van Sant, a CBS journalist; Michael Scadron, a former prosecutor for the United States Department of Justice; and myself, a retired FBI Agent. Each of us (and many more) came forward using our actual names and identities and have been subjected to scathing criticism and harassment bordering on criminal acts. But we knew the job was dangerous when we took it. The difference between the malicious posters and the aforementioned experts is that the people who have lent their names have all had careers and/or experience which gave them valuable insight into the Kercher murder investigation.
But the trolls and others have tried to have people fired from their jobs at least four times--simply for voicing their opinion that the evidence clears Amanda Knox. Free speech does not apply to their causes. They tried to have a professor in England fired, a journalist in Seattle, a judge in Seattle, and others fired. Why? For having the audacity to speak what they consider truth. But if it’s not the trolls'
truth, then it must be stopped. Books must be burned.
I became involved in the Amanda Knox case when I realized upon examining the evidence that Knox had been railroaded, and that the evidence actually cleared her and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. I began to speak out. If I had done so under a web pseudonym: “fbiguyreally;” I would have and should have been laughed out of the discussion. Instead, so that my expertise could add to the discussion and be taken seriously, I volunteered my name, my resume and my bona-fides to major networks and newspapers, including CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX News. They in turn vetted the information I had provided with the FBI in New York, Washington and Los Angeles, according to the FBI.
Yet immediately, a group of nameless trolls began questioning my credentials
. People who refused to identify themselves by name or occupation began to question who I said I was, and cast doubt on whether I really was an FBI Agent. This from people with dignified names such as ‘harryrag,’ ‘fast pete’ and ‘somealibi.’ At the same time, all three of these particular trolls claimed to have inside information and/or expertise on the case. But they would not identify themselves except for the “somealibi,” who claims to be an attorney. (This claim was investigated and is in serious doubt.) “Fast pete,” it turned out, appears to be a certain 70 year-old accused serial-liar for whom no employment records can be found for the last 20 years; and who was recently threatened with arrest by NYPD for stalking young women. Likely the nickname was given to him by his wife.The final poster, “harry rag,” has not been identified as of yet, though he is by far the most prodigious anti-Knox & Sollecito poster (but is strangely silent about Rudy Guede, the only accused who is not appealing his conviction, and who has admitted his involvement.) He claims to have inside knowledge on the case and speaks with great passion on the matter, but again, refuses steadfastly to identify himself, which raises the question of either his veracity, his motivation or his real concern. All three trolls attack others personally and professionally; demonstrably lying and threatening. One common theme of theirs seems to be sexual. My wife, who has also identified herself by name, has received some of the most disgusting pornography E-mailed from harry rag, and has been the subject of vile sexual suggestions and requests from harryrag and others associated with them. She has been called every name in the book by harry, fast pete and others.
These “honorable debaters” claim to be doing what they do for the sake of the victim in this case; Meredith Kercher. Meredith by all accounts was a beautiful, talented, popular and creative woman who was murdered and sexually assaulted by a burglar. But if one cares so little about finding the real murderer of Meredith that they aren’t even willing to use their real names, it is fair to ask whether the person (poster) even exists (many people have multiple pseudonyms), whether they are paid by another, or whether they even care.
How much passion can someone have about any cause or person when they are unwilling to even risk associating their own names with their statements? I would not care to have a friend who would not defend me without having a paper bag over his head. That person isn’t really a friend, that person cares much more about himself that he does about others. I hope harry rag has people he cares more about than he obviously cares about Meredith Kercher, because he doesn’t seem to be willing to go out of his way to support her. No, he hides behind a name. “With friends like that….” No, whoever he is, harry apparently does not have the concern and/or bravery inside himself to defend Meredith using his own name. Meredith fought for her life with bravery and nobility. She deserves better than friends who show the white feather.
There is a difference between fear and cowardice, of course. On the night of April 10, 1912, everybody on the Titanic was terrified. But people like Wallace Hartley, the ship’s bandleader, and his entire band, spent the rest of their lives not searching for a lifeboat, but playing music to ease the pain and the panic of the passengers. That was bravery. That was noble.
Sadly, many men of “noble birth” did what they could to displace women and children in the lifeboats. One 21 year old passenger named Daniel Buckley testified in the official U.S. inquiry of the sinking that he had somehow boarded a lifeboat that was full. When the Titanic crewmen found that men were aboard this lifeboat, they drew their pistols and ordered the men off at gunpoint so that waiting women and children could board before the boat was lowered. Buckley testified: “I was crying. A woman in the boat had thrown her shawl over me and told me to stay. They did not see me, and the boat was lowered down into the water.”
So he sat in the lifeboat crying, pretending to be a woman, wearing women’s clothing so that he could live at the cost of the death of a woman with a child. He was so unwilling to face danger or death, that he not only placed his wellbeing above the wellbeing of others, but he engaged in deceit to do so—so that others (the crewmen) could not enforce societal and maritime law.
Daniel Buckley assumed a different identity so that he could achieve an illegitimate goal. By not identifying themselves, or claiming that they are something that they are not, Internet trolls are also assuming a different identity, for equally duplicitous purposes. This is epic cowardice. But instead of taking the place of a woman and child who would ultimately die, they are going after two innocent kids. The difference, of course, is that Daniel Buckley’s life depended on it, so one can almost understand his failure.
What’s in it for the trolls?
Since December 2007, when investigator Edgardo Giobbi, forensic technician Patrizia Stefanoni and prosecutor Giuliano Mignini began their ill-fated quest to frame Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, all lucid, experienced investigators, and observers who were unimpressed with hyperbole and tabloid rumor have been clamoring for a review of the “real” evidence in the Kercher murder case.
It took two and a half years for an honest judge to finally order such a review. And, true to the suspicions of people who really know good evidence and what it looks like and what it doesn’t, it has come back completely discredited. Worse maybe. Likely more than the evidence has been devastated and discredited. So too, it appears, have been the careers of Giobbi, Stefanoni and Mignini.
The “murder” knife? The knife they like to call the “Double-DNA Knife?” It was alleged by convicted suspect-abuser Mignini to have the DNA of Amanda on the handle and the DNA of the victim on the blade. Amanda’s DNA on the blade is not unusual, in that it was in a kitchen in which she cooked—but was 10 minutes away from the murder scene. And as any Kercher-case court-watcher knows, the prosecution’s own witness said that the knife could not have inflicted nearly all the wounds in the victim’s neck. And the one they could not rule out was simply a slash, which could have been caused by any sharp thing. So they played musical knives?
Mignini, who is assisting in the prosecution while appealing a 16-month prison sentence, insinuated that the DNA on the blade was derived from Meredith Kercher’s blood.
Well, this knife did NOT have the DNA or the blood of the victim on it. And never did. The “Double-DNA Knife” appears to have been misnamed. I think it should be called the “Dupe-a-Dummy Knife.” Meredith’s DNA? No way. The discredited procedures of Stefanoni apparently allowed her to call the substance she saw on the knife DNA, and once she found that, and as long as she got to make up the procedures as she went, she could call it anybody’s DNA she wanted. What did the unbiased Italian experts say about Stefanoni’s brilliance?
Relative to trace B (blade of the knife) we find that the technical analyses performed are not reliable for the following reasons:
1. There does not exist evidence which scientifically confirms that trace B (blade of knife) is the product of blood.
2. The electrophoretic profiles exhibited reveal that the sample indicated by the letter B (blade of knife) was a Low Copy Number (LCN) sample, and, as such, all of the precautions indicated by the international scientific community should have been applied.
3. Taking into account that none of the recommendations of the international scientific community relative to the treatment of Low Copy Number (LCN) samples were followed, we do not accept the conclusions regarding the certain attribution of the profile found on trace B (blade of knife) to the victim Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher, since the genetic profile, as obtained, appears unreliable insofar as it is not supported by scientifically validated analysis;
4. International protocols of inspection, collection, and sampling were not followed;
5. It cannot be ruled out that the result obtained from sample B (blade of knife) derives from contamination in some phase of the collection and/or handling and/or analyses performed.
What does all that mean? It means that there is no evidence and no reason to believe that blood was on that knife--ever. It also says that the “DNA” on the blade was of such a small amount that an entire category of procedures were required, procedures which Stefanoni did not know, and equipment she did not have, and protocols she did not follow. It was as if you gave a Boeing 747 to a Cessna pilot and said, “Fly this to New York.” Sure, he’s a licensed pilot, but not licensed to fly something that demanding or complicated. The result would be catastrophe. Same as what happened here. Stefanoni was a Cessna pilot who told the court that she had landed a 747 in New York, ahead of schedule and without spilling the passenger’s drinks.
Additionally, and interestingly, when the handles were taken off the blade of the knife, no blood was found. Starch was found. Starch? Yes, as in the type of starch found in the water of boiling pots of pasta. If blood had EVER been on that knife, the starch would have absorbed it and preserved it. That knife has never even touched blood. The independent examiners actually requested that they be allowed to remove the handles from the knife. Why? If the knife was used in a bloody murder (as alleged), then significant residue from the blood of the victim would very likely be lodged between the handle and the blade. One would think that this would be a huge boon to the prosecution. But the request was denied. Why? Did the defense object? No. The defense wanted the handles removed. It was the prosecution which fought to have the handles kept right where they were. There is only one reason that the prosecution would want the handles kept where they were: Taking them off would prove that the knife had never been used in a crime.
Now that the Dupe-a-Dummy knife has been relegated to insignificance and infamy, the only piece of real evidence that “ties” either Amanda or Raffaele to the crime scene is the infamous “bra clasp” of Meredith’s, which was found six weeks after the arrest of Amanda and Raffaele.
This clasp was said to have Raffaele’s DNA on it. But when requests were made to test it, the court was told that the DNA was completely consumed in the first test. NOT SO, say the experts. They said that they found “copious” amounts of DNA on it. But NONE of Raffaele or Amanda. In fact, the DNA which the “expert” Stefanoni said was Raffaele’s DNA was actually so badly misread, that she mistook one chromosome as a “Y” chromosome, which made her think that a female’s DNA was a male’s DNA. And in particular, the male was, inexplicably, a man who had never been in the room, but whom the prosecutor had arrested. I would call this piece of evidence “an arrested development.”
Relative to Item 165B (bra clasps), we find that the technical analysis is not reliable for the following reasons:
1. There does not exist evidence which scientifically confirms the presence of supposed flaking cells on the item;
2. There was an erroneous interpretation of the electrophoretic profile of the autosomic STRs;
3. There was an erroneous interpretation of the electrophoretic profile relative to the Y chromosome;
4. The international protocols for inspection, collection, and sampling of the item were not followed;
5. It cannot be ruled out that the results obtained derive from environmental contamination and/or contamination in some phase of the collection and/or handling of the item.
Again, the “Cessna pilot” is chided;
“The international protocols for inspection, collection, and sampling of the item were not followed.”
So now the bra clasp means nothing. And the knife means nothing.
This is not the case where a technicality causes the prosecution to have to throw away good evidence. There never was evidence there. This is a case of made-up evidence that has been exposed.
The alleged “confession” (see injusticeinperugia.com) was so heinous and illegal that it was thrown out over two years ago by the Italian Supreme Court. And in this “confession” Amanda was simply slapped, kept up all night, screamed at and threatened with the rest of her life, to say that the man the prosecutor wanted to pin the crime on, Patrick Lumumba, was in the house that night. And Amanda retracted this “confession” hours later, citing coercion. So the “confession” means nothing.
The “witnesses” were shown to be drug-using, paid, serial witnesses who could not tell the difference between one day of a week and another, obviously mistaking Halloween for the murder night. So the “witnesses” mean nothing.
Last week, two former cellmates of Rudy testified that he told each of them that he felt guilty, because Amanda and Raffaele had nothing to do with the crimes. In addition, the cell occupants on either side of Rudy’s cell corroborate the story, saying they heard him tell the story to not only his cellmates, but a priest and a nun.
So what is left? Nothing, really. There is no credible evidence left with which to pin a murder on two innocent kids. But they will try. In order to protect their careers, which are clearly now on the line, they will allege stupid, ignorant things that people who do not know forensics or investigations might believe because they sound intelligent when they say it. If you asked a British Gentlemen to explain a serious lower-digestive problem and didn’t listen to the exact words, you might think he was critiquing a good wine, simply because of how he speaks. This is what Mignini depends on; sounding believable, regardless of how unbelievable he actually is.
Here is what the crew is now likely to throw out:
1. The discredited allegation that Raffaele’s “bloody footprint” was on a bathmat. All scientific explanations have shown the footprint to be incompatible with Sollecito’s foot and completely compatible with Rudy’s. No one outside the case, or the willingly deluded, still believes that the bloody footprint belongs to anybody but Rudy.
2. Alleged “bloody footprints” of Knox in the hallway. Stefanoni herself testified in court that the footprints of Knox were not derived of blood—and Stefanoni said that after she had perjured herself by testifying that she had never tested them for blood. Most experts agree that the footprints were likely from a shower cleaner.
3. The “Staged Break-in.” This could simply be resolved by sending the glass from the break-in to the FBI lab and have ascertain for the court whether the rock was thrown from inside the house or out. But the prosecution won’t do that. Why? Wouldn’t that help their case? Hmmmmm. They didn’t want the DNA tested either. Hmmmmmmm.
4. Allegations of “mixed-blood” of Knox and Meredith. This is the most easily refutable, but like the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot, it is still held by those who want to believe it. The “mixed-blood” supposedly occurred in Amanda Knox’s sink. In reality, the killer washed off in that sink, which is just across the hall from the murder room. Amanda had used that sink for weeks. It was awash in her DNA from brushing her teeth, her hands, her face, spitting, blowing her nose, brushing her hair, etc., etc. There was enough of Amanda’s DNA in that sink that if it was found 1,000 years from now, they could clone a race of Amanda Knox’s, (which if people knew the real Amanda, would not be such a bad thing.)
What happened was simply that Meredith’s blood dropped off the killer’s hands into Amanda’s sink, absorbing DNA as it did. If Amanda’s DNA was not in that blood sample, it would have been suspicious. But we can resolve this urban legend immediately. Send the sample to the FBI lab. They can tell you if there are the blood of two different people in that single drop. But they won’t. Hmmmmmmmmm.
Oh, and another problem is that Amanda didn’t have cuts of any kind or any other sources of blood on her entire body the morning after Meredith was murdered. Where did the blood come from?
5. "Mixed-blood" of the victim and Amanda’s DNA in the break-in room. The sample that purports to be this specimen is blood tracked throughout the house by incompetent “criminologists” as they walked un-restricted from Meredith’s blood-covered floor, down the hall where Amanda walked barefoot and into the break-in room. There are two hours of videos showing just this behavior. Additionally, the specimen is not a footprint, a shoeprint, a handprint or any other identifiable thing. It is a blotch about twice the size of a human foot, and it is circular. It is compatible with only one thing: The booties worn by the criminologists. (I have added a photograph of an actual "criminologist" at the actual Kercher murder scene. The booties he's wearing are not removable. They are attached to the coveralls. The video shows these men moving into and out of the cottage, walking onto dirt, and into every room without changing these booties.)
One might wonder how people can still find a reason to believe that Knox and Sollecito aren't absolutely innocent. There are several reasons, really. First, some like Giobbi, Mignini, Massei and Stefanoni have careers riding on it. Others were simply duped by a hostile tabloid press and find it easier to believe that the two kids are guilty than face the fact that the press and a prosecutor would lie to them. (To them, I say "wake up!") There are some who are predisposed to dislike Amanda because she is an attractive female, because she is an American, and because she is viewed at "rich." (She is not, except in the currency of friends, in which she is a tycoon.) Some are just maladjusted. And finally, some are too naive to understand the nuances and complexities of criminology and forensics. Just today, I read a post by a person convinced that Amanda is not innocent. But to be clear, this particular person is not an unbiased poster looking to be educated on the case or even the nuances of DNA indications; the poster is a serial-poster in several of the hate-Amanda-Knox websites. 9These people post horrible vitriol about Amanda, yet seem to ignore Rudy Guede (whose DNA was inside the murder victim), and Raffaele Sollecito, the co-defendant of Amanda--who is equally innocent.) The poster had read the report I included in this article. They read that Amanda's DNA had been found on the handle of the knife, and assumed that DNA and blood are synonymous. Which is patently untrue. Rather than check their facts or try to understand the report, they attacked Knox. DNA can be found in skin cells. It can be found in hair. Blood is only one substance in which it appears. If DNA = Blood, then anything is possible, I suppose. The Earth could = the Moon. People who are unbiased and seeking the truth will seek out knowledge on the subject, not information
No physical evidence. No “confession.” No credible “witnesses.” No DNA. No bloody footprints. No knife, no bra clasp. No nothing. Only two questions about this trial remain: 1)With this situation, what will the Italian judiciary do about it? and 2) Why are the kids still in jail?The new Judge; Hellman, has shown himself to be a fair and honest judge to this point. I have high hopes that he will continue on this path and show the world that Mignini and Massei are aberrations, much the same way that the independent forensic examiners showed Stefanoni to be just such an aberration. But one can be forgiven if the blatant bias of Massei has caused an inherent (but hopefully short-lived) distrust of the court in Perugia. Amanda and Raffaele should be out of prison pending the verdict. They should be exonerated before the summer is out.
The enemies of Amanda and Raffaele are avarice, ignorance, megalomania, hate, envy and superstition; not the evidence. In fact, the evidence is their biggest supporter. Remember, it is the defense which has been clamoring for everybody to look at the evidence as closely as they can. It is the prosecution which has attempted to hide it.
So, quoting Abraham Lincoln:
“With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.”
Happy Sunday! (or almost Monday for my readers in England, Germany, Italy and Poland.) As Rudy Guede will be on the stand in just a few hours, I thought it might be valuable to republish an article I wrote in 2010 for Injustice In Perugia.com. One of the only questions that seem to plague people unfamiliar with criminology is why an innocent person would give a statement that would implicate themselves in some way.
Obviously, it happens enough, and has been historically such a problem that the founding fathers of the United States specifically added the right to be protected against self-incrimination in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. The obvious implication, and the meaning that has been taken by every legal scholar in the world, is that given irresponsible government actions people can and will be coerced into incriminating themselves in activities with which they had nothing to do. Look up "Salem Witch Trials."
Significantly, I have never heard the question about false self-incrimination from anybody familiar with the legal or criminal system. Nor have I ever had a law enforcement professional familiar with the facts of this case do anything but ask how they can help free these innocent people.
It's a frustrating fact that the only people in the world who still hold on to the guilt of Amanda and Raffaele (with the exception of a few Italian police and prosecutors whose careers are on the line) are a few naive souls who possess no knowledge of actual criminal investigations and procedures other than what they watch on TV ("telly") or read in true-crime publications. These same people; clerks, translators, salespeople, etc., who have an axe to grind against Amanda and Raffaele, have now decided that by virtue of their "expertise" in forensics and criminology that they are competent to question, criticize and even mock the conclusions of career federal prosecutors, DNA scientists, attorneys, judges, FBI Agents, and investigative journalists. It makes one wonder if these people second guess the airline pilots when they fly. Because frankly, they know as much about flying as they do law enforcement, and apparently their arrogance is in no way compromised by obvious, but conflicting, fact.
I have a close friend who is a former president of a Fortune 100 corporation (not Donald Trump, by the way.) He once told me, "It's important to know what you know, but it's essential to know what you don't know." The people who still believe (or advocate for) the guilt of Amanda and Raffaele, sadly don't even know what they don't know.
Here's the 2010 article, and thanks for reading.
Coerce: To Achieve by force or threat(Merriam –Webster Dictionary)
The word interrogation comes, ironically from the Latin root word “interrogatus”, which means “to ask”. At no time in Amanda’s “interrogation” was any she truly ‘asked’ anything, or was any information truly solicited. This interrogation was simply planned coercion to force her to say what the police needed her to say. No true “interrogation” took place. What took place bore more resemblance to the Inquisition than to an interrogation.
I have said in an earlier article that if any FBI Agents who reported to me had conducted this interview, I would have had them prosecuted. I stand by that.
In my quarter-century with the FBI, I became very adept at interrogation (or ‘interviewing’; the Bureau’s kinder and gentler phrase for interrogation.) In the majority of my cases that went to trial, I had already obtained a confession. On one occasion, I listened and took notes for eight hours as a murderer confessed in disturbing detail. On another occasion, I interviewed a man for 8 hours before he confessed and provided corroborating information on a murder he had assisted in.
In the instance of the latter confession, I met with the suspect at about noon at the FBI office. I read him what are known by the public as “Miranda Rights”, and then immediately took him to lunch at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant down the street. The conversation got more serious as the evening went on, and I ordered take-out for dinner. Later that evening, the suspect tearfully confessed. However, because the interview went 8 hours, and occurred in the FBI office, the United States Attorney’s Office refused to enter the confession into evidence because they believed any federal court would consider the circumstances of the confession “inherently coercive”. The individual was never prosecuted for that crime. This is the diligence with which federal courts protect an individual from even possible coercion.
Amanda Knox was interrogated for 8 hours. Overnight. Without food or water. In a police station. In a foreign country. In a foreign language. By a dozen different officers. Without being allowed a lawyer.
In my cases in the FBI, I have seen agents conduct masterful interviews, and I have had to deal with intelligence operatives of other countries torturing suspects. I know my way around good and bad interrogations.
The Inquisition Amanda Knox experienced in Perugia was no more legally or morally defensible than the Salem Witch Trials. No rational person should believe that the results of what she went through are reliable evidence.
THE 40-HOUR INTERROGATION WEEK:
How many hours do you work a week? If you’re like almost everybody, you work 40 hours in five days. In the five days after the murder of Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox was interrogated by detectives for 43 hours. Think about that for a minute. That’s not a number in dispute. 43 hours of sitting at a table being badgered by questions from detectives in five days. 8 hours a day for an entire work week. In a foreign country. In a foreign language.
Of even greater ignominy are the last eight hours of the interrogation. This took place from 10:30 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. All night. Why would detectives schedule an interrogation overnight? Detectives are for the most part different from other policemen in that their regular schedule is 8a-5p or 9a-5p or something similar. Sure, they get called out in the middle of the night, but all things equal, unless you are in a department like NYPD or LAPD where a skeleton crew covers the evening shift; normal schedules for detectives are not overnight.
But that night, Amanda was interrogated all night. And by not just one or two detectives, but by a dozen (12) detectives. Again, the police not only do not dispute this, but they have entered this evidence into court. Perugia has a population of approximately 165,000 people. I live in a town of 100,000 and there are less than ½ a dozen detectives to cover the city, much less work an all-night shift. Perugia had to call in resources from Rome to help that night. It was not a spontaneous interrogation. It was pre-planned, and pre-planned to be an all-nighter.
Why interrogate all night? There are few legitimate reasons:
· It’s a rapidly unfolding case where lives are at risk, such as a bombing spree
· It’s the only time the suspect is available
· There is a deadline
If you are going to have 12 detectives available all night for an interrogation, you need to let them know well in advance. You need to schedule them, to change their days off, etc. You have to pay them overtime. In the real world, 12 detectives all night is something that has to be signed off by higher-ups. What does this tell us? It tells us the interrogation was NOT a rapidly unfolding case where lives were at risk—they planned this interview well in advance, and INTENTIONALLY overnight. They knew Amanda was available all day (as they had interviewed her for 35 hours in the past four days). There was no deadline. The lead detective in the case, Giobbi, (who has since been sentenced to prison for abuse of the rights of people he was investigating) had already said they “knew” Amanda was the murderer by this point. So they did not believe there was a murderer on the loose “out there.” (And yet there was).
No, the reason they interrogated Amanda all night was to break her. Not get the truth, not get answers, not make Perugia safer; but to break her so that she would say what they wanted her to say.
They used a technique that I unfortunately became aware of while serving overseas in counter-terrorism. We used to call it “tag-teaming”. I am aware of its use by intelligence/law enforcement officers of other countries. It takes dozens of operatives/officers to make it work. Two officers are assigned for approximately an hour at a time to the suspect. Their prime responsibility is simply to keep the person awake and agitated. They do this for only an hour, because it takes a lot out of the detectives. After an hour, a fresh pair of “interrogators” come in. Again, the questions they ask are secondary to their main task—keep the person awake and afraid. By tag-teaming every hour, the interrogators remain fresh, energetic and on-task. The suspect, however, becomes increasingly exhausted, confused by different questions from dozens of different interrogators, and prays for the interrogation to end. In extreme cases, people can become so disoriented that they forget where they are. Interrogation such as this for more than four days has resulted in death.
As evidence of the effectiveness of this technique, I provide excerpts from a de-classified CIA document published by Research Publication Woodbridge, CT 06525. This document was from the Director of the CIA to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in 1956, and described techniques for brainwashing used by Communists in North Korea:
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
WASHINGTON 25, D. C.
OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR 25 APR 1956
MEMORANDUM FOR: The Honorable J. Edgar Hoover
Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
SUBJECT : Brainwashing
TECHNIQUES AND THEIR EFFECTS:
5. Induction of Fatigue. This is a well-known device for breaking will power and critical powers of judgment. Deprivation of sleep results in more intense psychological debilitation than does any other method of engendering fatigue. The communists vary their methods. "Conveyor belt" interrogation that last 50-60 hours will make almost any individual compromise, but there is danger that this will kill the victim. It is safer to conduct interrogations of 8-10 hours at night while forcing the prisoner to remain awake during the day. Additional interruptions in the remaining 2-3 hours of allotted sleep quickly reduce the most resilient individual .
Fatigue, in addition to reducing the will to resist, also produces irritation……forgetfulness, and decreased ability to maintain orderly thought processes.
That is what happened to Amanda that night. You do not need 12 detectives all night in a station in order to conduct a normal interrogation. All you need are two. It is an aberration for a detective not on the case to interview another detective’s subject. It’s kind of alike a car salesman cutting in on another salesman’s customer halfway through the deal. So, they were there for a reason.
ELICITATION v. COERCION
1. Elicitation is the attempt to determine information one does not already have.
2. Coercion is the attempt to cause a person to say or do something by force or threat.
If you’re trying to determine facts and truth, you want your suspect clear, lucid and awake. If you want to coerce your suspect into saying what you want them to say, you want them disoriented, groggy and confused.
From the same CIA document on brainwashing:
“There is a major difference between preparation for elicitation and for brainwashing . Prisoners exploited through elicitation must retain sufficient clarity of thought to be able to give coherent, factual accounts. In brainwashing , on the other hand, the first thing attacked is clarity of thought.”
What do you think the police were attempting to do that night? Determine the truth? Or force a scared American college girl to create a case for them?
Amanda was given nothing to eat or drink during the interrogation. No coffee. Nothing until she signed the statement they wanted her to sign. The entire interrogation was in Italian, which she did not functionally speak at the time. She was threatened with never seeing her parents again, with a 30 year prison sentence, and repeatedly called ‘stupid’. Does any reasonable person really doubt she that she was also slapped in the head when the interrogators didn’t like what she said? When she asked for a lawyer, she was told that a lawyer would only “make it worse” for her.
WHY DID IT END WHEN IT DID?
There are two reasons an interrogator stops an interrogation:
1. He/she gets what they want, or
2. He/she gives up.
If the interrogator gives up, there is no written statement by the suspect. Therefore, if the interrogation ends with a signed statement , you know the interrogator got what they wanted, and can easily determine what that was. And what did Amanda say that satisfied her inquisitors? “I confusedly remember seeing Patrick come out of Meredith’s room”. So what did they want? They wanted to implicate Patrick Lumumba.
Amanda did not bring up the name Patrick Lumumba. The police did. And they repeatedly told her to “imagine” Patrick and herself being at the cottage that night.
Amanda did not give in to the brainwashing. But the police achieved enough with her to obtain a statement that let them do what they had intended to do all along: Arrest Patrick Lumumba.
But Amanda’s note the next day to police indicates that the techniques they used were effective nonetheless. The same CIA document described the techniques used to brainwash a person, as well as the desired results. If you compare Amanda’s note to the police just hours after her interrogation with the techniques and goals of brainwashing, the results speak for themselves. (The excerpts from Amanda’s note are in italics):
“The most important aspect of the brainwashing process is the interrogation. The other pressures are designed primarily to help the interrogator achieve his goals. The following states are created systematically within the individual . These may vary in order, but all are necessary to the brainwashing process:”
1. A feeling of helplessness in attempting to deal with the impersonal machinery of control.
· “Please don't yell at me because it only makes me more confused, which doesn't help anyone. I understand how
serious this situation is, and as such, I want to give you this information as soon and as clearly as possible.”
· “Honestly, I understand because this is a very scary situation. I also know that the police don't believe things of me that I know I can explain.”
· “I have a clearer mind that I've had before, but I'm still missing parts, which I know is bad for me.”
· “In regards to this "confession" that I made last night, I want to make clear that I'm very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock and extreme exhaustion. Not only was I told I would be arrested and put in jail for 30 years, but I was also hit in the head when I didn't remember a fact correctly.”
2. An initial reaction of "surprise."
· “What I don't understand is why Raffaele, who has always been so caring and gentle with me, would lie about this.”[He hadn’t]
· “My boyfriend has claimed that I have said things that I know are not true.” [He hadn’t]
3. A feeling of uncertainty about what is required of him.
· “If there are still parts that don't make sense, please ask me. I'm doing the best I can, just like you are. Please believe me at least in that, although I understand if you don't. All I know is that I didn't kill Meredith, and so I have nothing but lies to be afraid of.”
· “Please don't yell at me because it only makes me more confused, which doesn't help anyone.”
4. A developing feeling of dependence upon the interrogator.
· “I understand that the police are under a lot of stress, so I understand the treatment I received.”
· “I'm doing the best I can, just like you are.”
5. A sense of doubt and loss of objectivity.
· “The police have told me that they have hard evidence that places me at the house, my house, at the time of Meredith's murder. I don't know what proof they are talking about, but if this is true, it means I am very confused…”
· “This is very strange, I know, but really what happened is as confusing to me as it is to everyone else.”· “I have been told there is hard evidence saying that I was at the place of the murder of my friend when it happened. This, I want to confirm, is something that to me, if asked a few days ago, would be impossible.”
6. Feelings of guilt.
7. A questioning attitude toward his own value-system.
8. A feeling of potential "breakdown," i.e., that he might go crazy.
· “However, it was under this pressure and after many hours of confusion that my mind came up with these answers. In my mind I saw Patrik (sic) in flashes of blurred images. I saw him near the basketball court. I saw him at my front door. I saw myself cowering in the kitchen with my hands over my ears because in my head I could hear Meredith screaming. But I've said this many times so as to make myself clear: these things seem unreal to me, like a dream, and I am unsure if they are real things that happened or are just dreams my head has made to try to answer the questions in my head and the questions I am being asked.”
· “I'm very confused at this time. My head is full of contrasting ideas and I know I can be frustrating to work with for this reason. But I also want to tell the truth as best I can.”
· “In these flashbacks that I'm having, I see Patrik (sic) as the murderer, but the way the truth feels in my mind, there is no way for me to have known…”
9. A need to defend his acquired principles.
· “I want to make very clear that these events seem more unreal to me that what I said before, that I stayed at Raffaele's house.”
· “Who is the REAL murder [sic]? This is particularly important because I don't feel I can be used as condemning testimone [sic] in this instance.”
10. A final sense of "belonging" (identification).
What the inquisitors did not achieve however, speaks volumes of Amanda’s character and innocence. No matter how hard they tried, and how manipulative and coercive they were, Amanda repeatedly denied ANY involvement in the murder, and the police could develop no feelings of guilt in her. This is not sociopathy, this is innocence. Note that in her note, she expresses empathy for the officers who had just subjected her to this abomination.
Never once did she question her own innocence (value system). And never did she experience any sense of identification with the accusations of the police.
This is an innocent college girl subjected to the most aggressive and heinous interrogation techniques the police could utilize (yet not leave marks.) She became confused, she empathized with her captors, she doubted herself in some ways, but in the end her strength of character and her unshakable knowledge of her innocence carried her through. It’s time that the real criminals were prosecuted.
According to the dictionary, to presume is:
1. To act overconfidently; take liberties.
2. To take unwarranted advantage of something; go beyond the proper limits:
3. To take for granted that something is true or factual
Possibly the greatest example of the perils of presumption is the Chicago Daily Tribune, November 3, 1948. The editors, apparently wanting to scoop everybody, put the interest of the paper (scooping others) and the interest of themselves (career boost) above the interest of the public, whom the press is assumed to serve, and printed a headline about a “fact” that they knew was not a fact when they printed it. And it never became fact.
In doing so, they became the absolute symbol of the worst mistake a “news” organization can make. The photograph of Harry Truman holding the “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” headline is likely the most humiliating moment the Tribune ever experienced, and continues to experience. It is a black mark on their credibility and their heritage.
Stand by, it’s about to happen again, and I’m giving you advance notice.
It’s not the Trib this time, it’s a well-funded but poorly-regarded web page called “The Daily Beast.” The site displays every bit of the integrity and nobility of purpose that its title would have you believe. It appears to feed on sensationalism and makes its bones off of others misery. Lately it seems to be majoring on the Casey Anthony trial, the Anthony Weiner debacle and a 51 year old TV star who married a 16 year old. If you’re off to check out those stories now, quit reading here. You’re not going to “get” this article, or even care if you did.
The DB is a relatively new start-up and is desperately trying to establish itself. It needed an OJ Simpson case or similar mud in which to wallow and boost readership. It got what it wanted with the Amanda Knox case in Italy. The DB came out early and loud for Knox’s guilt. This before any guilt was established. Much like the Trib’s headline, Knox’s guilt will not ever be established, because it is not factual.But the Beast rode the story of Knox’s guilt like a disposable horse. An innocent American girl, 20 years old was just what the DB needed. They twisted and crafted and “questioned” Knox’s statements, the prosecutor’s “evidence,” rumors, innuendo, and outright lies into a case against Knox. They literally fomented hate against her. They could use her misfortune to make their own fortune. To this end, one of their contributors, Barbie Latza Nadeau, spent “every day” in court and absolutely skinned Knox alive in the press. Amanda Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted on the “strength” of the most heinous, contrived, secret and illegal proceedings this side of a gulag. It worked out for the beast. Knox was convicted.
But wait. Knox had appeals coming. In Italy, nearly 50% of those convicted on their initial trial are exonerated on appeal.
But this ‘unbiased’ “journalist” Nadeau then cashed-in on Knox’s tragedy with a book, which was published before Knox’s appeal even began. It is entitled, “Angel Face: The True Story of Student Killer Amanda Knox.” Everything would be coming up roses for Nadeau and the DB except for one painful, irritating fact that will not go away. Knox and her boyfriend had nothing to do with the crime, and the appeal is revealing this. The world is discovering their innocence. Bad news at beast.
The evidence is falling apart. The prosecutor and the police have been shown to have lied. The chief forensic officer at the scene perjured herself in court. The DNA evidence will soon be shown to be a farce, or worse, planted. CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, CNN, Oggi Magazine in Italy, a Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times journalist, forensic experts, law enforcement experts, attorney’s, judges, U.S. Senators and at least 11 members of the Italian Parliament have figured this out. Many British newspapers have now come to the realization that Amanda and Raffaele are innocent. Even the British Tabloids, who led the propaganda tsunami that did so much to convict two innocent kids, are now openly suspicious of the case and the prosecutor.
Is the beast the only news outlet that hasn’t figured this one out yet? Or is this a strategy?
We should have a little sympathy for them. They are stuck between a rock and a very hard place. They didn’t just crow about Knox’s guilt, they built a business on it. They published books. They tied their wagon to that horse, and now that horse is panting and dying. They published their own “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” headline. And the world is about to wake up in the morning and find that Truman is president.
I have personally watched the changes in heart of journalists who initially believed in Knox’s guilt and reported that. Many printed or broadcast even more incendiary items than the beast did. And in each case that I’ve seen, when these journalists realized the truth, they changed their position. And they did so in writing or on the air. It was understandably embarrassing for some. But these were people for whom truth was more important than ratings.
Even Nadeau has at times tried to back away or distance herself from her stance in the press, but the title of her book, “The True Story of Amanda Knox, Student Killer” puts the axe to the roots of any claim of even-handedness this “journalist” has.
In what can only be termed a startling “all or nothing” defense, the beast is clinging to Amanda Knox’s guilt as a means to save their business and what is left of their integrity. As late as this week, Barbie referred to Amanda Knox in “The Beast” as “…the Angel Face student-killer…” No other media outlet is now referring to her conclusively as a ‘killer.’ This is all or nothing. If Knox is exonerated, her life will be saved, but the beast—if it survives--will forever bear the scars of their malignant ignorance. If Knox is found guilty, the beast wins and an innocent girl loses a significant part of her life. This latter scenario is best for the beast’s business model obviously.
This is journalistic bunker mentality. They have a chance to save themselves, but they are going “all in.” This is a game of chicken, but the facts are already known. Who now has to bank on an epic miscarriage of justice for their survival?
The beast of course. It's not a risk for them, they presume that they're right.