Glenglassaugh (glen GLASS’ uch) is a single-malt Scotch that I suspect few if any of us have ever tasted. I say this not because I believe we are Philistines (I certainly don’t), but because Glenglassaugh is so expensive and rare. This fine Scotch comes from the Speyside region of the Scottish Highlands where the barley and the water are so unique and superb that they are de rigueur for the finest Scotch distilleries.
For those less versed in Scotch, “single-malt” is the variation of Scotch that derives from a single aged oak barrel, rather than a mixture of the contents of several barrels, which is how other Scotches are blended. Blending multiple barrels is a technique used to bring up the overall quality of a year’s production by mixing good barrels with poorer barrels. Single-malt barrels, in contrast, are chosen specifically for their superior quality and are kept ‘virgin’ in order not to dilute their excellence. They are identified early in the aging process and regularly moved into different aging locations to change temperature and humidity to perfect the cask as the years go on. After a minimum of three years, the Scotch may legally be called Scotch (as long as it’s made in Scotland, of course) and it may be bottled. However, three years is hardly enough for single-malt. Many of Glenglassaugh’s single-malts are aged for decades and cost over $150 per bottle. You can even buy a full barrel (un-aged at purchase) for a mere $7,500 and within ten to twenty years, you’ll have a great cask of Glenglassaugh.
Oddly enough, I was musing over this recently as I was leaving my high school class reunion. This was the first time I had ever really gone to a full-fledged high school reunion. You see, I’m a pessimist. Not by nature, but by decision. I very much dislike disappointments and letdowns, yet I always seemed to be the guy who “believed” in long-shots and doomed-causes long after everyone else had seen the light. I was the kind of guy who strolled into a Chevrolet dealership in 1974 determined to buy a Vega because I was sure that the one I got wouldn't be a piece of crap. Years after Sony had given up on the Betamax, I still refused to convert to VHS, counting on a "Beta" comeback. Following my call for a recount the morning after Ronald Reagan beat my candidate Jimmy Carter, my family conducted an intervention (and an exorcism). I finally sought help. Under doctor’s orders I underwent radical therapy; I adopted the Chicago Cubs as my favorite baseball team and for the last 30 years have had every last bit of optimism ruthlessly beaten out of my soul, (and I'm now a Republican). It is because of my hard-won pessimism that I knew that I would never go to a high-school reunion.
I have heard every reunion horror story, and I knew what to expect. Poseurs, losers and braggers. And I knew that I would, inevitably, become one of the three before the night was over. It’s almost inescapable when at a reunion; the ego stakes are simply too high. Because in a way, the reunion is a report card on your life. No matter what you have accomplished in intangibles like raising good children, giving to charity, helping old ladies across the street, your entire life will be graded within five minutes by everyone you speak to. And even if nothing is said, you will see it in their eyes. I would, I was certain, be judged by my weight, hair (or lack of same), grace in aging, financial wellbeing and career. So I feared that I would be graded a loser or would try to be something I wasn’t. It’s a survival instinct.
Sadly, as my 35th high-school reunion neared, I fell off the wagon of pessimism and I had a severe relapse of optimism. This was caused by a series of freak events: My favorite football team, the San Francisco 49’ers went on an unexpected winning streak. Then, against all odds, I got a contract for my first book, and I suddenly realized that I had gone almost 20,000 miles in my Chrysler minivan without a transmission failure. Obviously, none of these things can be explained in purely human terms, so you can understand my confusion. In a fit of optimism about which I still feel shame, I caught a plane to Chicago for the reunion of the Buffalo Grove High School Class of 1976.
What I found at the reunion rocked me to my socks and set back my optimism aversion therapy probably for a lifetime. Inexplicably, it seemed, I had a fabulous time. I loved those people. In preparation for the event, I had memorized the “You can’t go home” adage (took me days), and had planned that each time I experienced an awkward silence because I had nothing in common with one of my old friends, I would simply repeat it silently to myself and the world would make sense. But as my old friends and I met up again after 35 years, something weird happened: We got along fabulously. There were no awkward silences. In fact, at times, I had the distinct feeling that we were continuing a conversation that got cut off last weekend, not in 1976.
Even people I barely knew in high school became new friends at the reunion. In 1976, Mary the winsome redhead and Cindy the cheerleader were both “out of my league” and I knew it. Now, Mary and her husband live on a spread in South Dakota big enough that people can hunt on it and she’s working on a book. Cindy manages a radio station and basks in the success of a son who recently passed the bar. Both were larger than life at the reunion and two of the highlights of my night. Friend after friend blew away my preconceived notions; Laura, Mark(s), Catherine(s) , Lance, Alysia, Tims(s), “Chaddy,” Steves(s), Anne, Nancy, Keith, Michelle, Tom……I was amazed at the quality of the people I had the privilege to go to high school with. I had no idea back then. Today, my old party-pals and fellow classroom clowns are musicians, cops, school teachers, stock brokers, authors, airline pilots, senate staffers, screenwriters, coaches, fire fighters, engineers, geologists, even a rabbi and a minister. It was quite a cast of characters. In more somber moments, we recounted the members of our class who would not be attending any more reunions because they had left us. By this reunion, the number that we knew of had reached double-digits, and it was a sobering and sad thought.
Rather than fizzle like some reunions, ours continued even after the banquet hall closed. Then after the bars closed. Then, after they threw about thirty of us out of the lobby of the hotel. And then it continued in the empty restaurant the hotel graciously opened for us. At 3:30 a.m., twenty or so were still sitting around a huge makeshift table as our classmate Tim strummed his guitar and alternately serenaded us and played songs from our years in high school so that we could all sing along. How did I never know he was that talented back in 1976? For just a moment, I felt like we had gone home. But for only a moment, and it seemed like nobody really wanted it to end.
But by 4:15, the realization was hitting most of us that we could only hold on to the moment so long, and like Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, we had to grow up and get on with life. We reluctantly hugged, kissed, shook hands and promised to keep in touch and went off in different directions to our rooms. The next day, we continued in different directions at 500 miles per hour. I felt true sadness that the moment ended, not sadness at what time had done to all of us. Because frankly, time had been a friend. No, we hadn’t recaptured our youth, we hadn’t “gone home,” nor were we reliving our high school 'glory days.' Maybe we realized that we would never want to recapture our youth.
On the way back to my hotel, my thoughts went to the conversations we had traded that night and I realized that no one hid behind the mask of “the perfect life.” Everyone at one time or another spoke of hidden pain, hardships and loss. Not one person wallowed in them, but neither were they afraid to admit them, to share their challenges and the ways they got through them, not because they wanted sympathy, but so they could encourage others. It was if they instinctively knew that everybody our age had been through hell at least once, and if you were on top one moment, you might be in a valley the next. It wasn’t a major topic, but it was there, and it was refreshing, and it was encouraging to see how people had overcome.
IT'S THE FIRE THAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
And as I drove, my mind went to Glenglassaugh. Not because I needed another drink. I was reminded of two little-known requirements for the making of fine Scotch. Fire and Bourbon. The best Scotch brands are aged in American Bourbon barrels that have had the interiors charred by firing. It is that charred barrel, steeped and aged in Bourbon that makes Scotch spectacular. When the Scotch alcohol first comes out of the pot still it is called, appropriately, “new spirit.” It is perfectly clear, colorless, and has a strong, undisciplined character much closer to “moonshine” than fine liquor. In high school, everyone at that reunion had been “new spirits." We had a sharp, in-your-face character, un-mellowed by any hard lessons or aging, because we hadn’t had any.
But if aging alone would have mellowed us, everyone would be fine with age. But we know that is not the case. And it is not the case with Scotch. If aging alone could do it, there would not be rules about the cask, and the way the liquor is aged. The finest liquor experiences the harshest aging. The hotter the summers and the colder the winters the better the liquor. Temperate conditions create tepid flavor. Stagnation will create a poor Scotch, also. Sitting without any kind of activity takes the character out of the barrel, so the barrel has to be rotated frequently. Sitting and stagnating also create poor human beings. Finally, in Scotch, approximately 10% of the barrel evaporates during aging, and this is known as “The Angel’s Share.” It’s a simple equation; you can’t get a truly exceptional Scotch without experiencing loss. Every single person at that reunion had experienced loss, some more recently than others; every single person had given up “The Angel’s Share” in their life. And it seemed that the ones who had experienced the most loss were themselves the most “refined.” But ultimately, it is fire that makes a tepid, store-brand Scotch into a work of art and makes the “new spirits” into amazing creations.
As the sun came up, it hit me that I had spent the evening with a group of single-malt friends. Not one of us had lived our lives without experiencing pain, loss or grief. Cancer, divorce, the death of friends and family, loss of jobs, financial ruin….nobody I spoke to had gotten through the last 35 years unscathed. We had all experienced the fire. And I realized that it was that fire; the pain, the loss and the recovery that had made these people extraordinary. It turned out that pain and what we learned from it might have been the common bond that we now had.
In June, 1976 in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, several hundred high school seniors graduated and moved out into the world with high hopes for the “good life” and few problems. That same month, in Speyside, Scotland, Glenglassaugh Distillery put up several barrels of “new spirit” into used, distressed, charred oak Bourbon barrels from Tennessee. This month, 35 years later, a remnant of that high school class met a few miles from the school which helped form them. They had experienced the fire of life, yes, but were stronger and better in most cases. They had mellowed, were more interesting, and their essential “bouquet” was more unique and pleasing than ever. Also this month, in the Scotland Highlands, the casks put up in 1976 were finally unsealed and poured into cut-crystal decanters, aged and distressed perfectly. The rare 35 year old Scotch went on the market for more than $500 per bottle. If these bottles are as mellow and full of character as the Buffalo Grove class of the same year, Glenglassaugh will be proud. In Scotland, as in Buffalo Grove, the exquisite result of aging and fire is recognized as having unusual value.
In the very near future, I plan to have a single shot of the finest single-malt Scotch my wallet will allow. And I will sip it straight, slowly enjoying its myriad of flavors, and contemplate the things that created those flavors. And I will think of my classmates who have aged so wonderfully, and contemplate the lives and the fires that created their wonderful character. Finally, I will drink to our classes’ ‘Angel’s Share;’ the ones we’ve lost in the process. With any luck, I will be remembering my classmates with that 1976 Glenglassaugh masterpiece, which they have appropriately named;
"The Chosen Few."
Amanda Knox; An Innocent Girl
Finally Goes Home
I met Amanda Knox for the first time a few days ago, following her release from an Italian prison after serving four years for a crime she did not commit. I am grateful that I had not met Amanda before I got involved in the case.
Not meeting Amanda prior to my involvement in the case probably saved me from prison time myself. Had I known her personally, I do not know if I could have waited for the agonizingly slow wheels of Italian justice to free her. Amanda, you see, turns out to be a truly spectacular person; even more intelligent than I had expected, even more empathetic than she had been described, and even more gentle than I had anticipated. More and more, the fact that she of all people was targeted by a malicious, psychologically-challenged rogue prosecutor raises the level of irony to almost absurd levels. So at a time when I should have been feeling only relief and gratitude, I had to fight a seething vicarious anger at four years taken from a good person. Amanda herself seems to bear no malice, and wonders only how anybody could believe she did what prosecutor Giuliano Mignini charged her with.
The events of the last week have washed over me like a tidal wave, and I have not caught up with the emotion, the reality or the impact of what took place. I do not feel that I am ready to write at length about the events in Perugia last week, but I wanted to communicate a few thoughts in the meantime.
The most beautiful part of the “Not Guilty” verdict for Amanda and Raffaele came in the way Italian law demands that a verdict be couched. In Italy, a person can be found not guilty for two reasons (and I paraphrase the language):
1. Not guilty due to insufficient evidence. (Not guilty)
2. Not guilty due to the fact that the person did not commit the crime. (Innocent)
The first option is a passive statement, but the second is a positive declaration ofinnocence, not simply lack of guilt. It says not that the prosecutors failed to meet their burden, but that the evidence proves that person charged did not commit the crime. It is not simply release, it is full exoneration. That is the verdict Amanda and Raffaele received: Not guilty because the evidence proved that they did not commit the crime.
In a piece in Wednesday’s International Herald Tribune, New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Timothy Egan wrote, “There was no way, based on forensic evidence that was a joke by international standards and a nonexistent motive that played into medieval superstitions, to find Knox and Sollecito guilty….” The claim of the prosecutors that there was a trace of the victim’s DNA on the blade of a knife used by Amanda to cut bread was, “….nearly laughed out of court by an independent panel of [DNA] experts.” The independent experts did find something on the blade, though: Bread Starch. (Rye). Out of nowhere.
It must be pointed out that Amanda’s exoneration did not come from an American court. The U.S. State Department (God knows) didn’t do anything to help her. The U.S. government abandoned her in a despicable, cowardly way, frankly. No, the exoneration of Amanda and Raffaele occurred in an Italian court. A court in the same Italian city in which they were first convicted by a judge who, if he is not corrupt, has not even a basic understanding of evidence and the rule of law. The kids were exonerated in the same courtroom in which the first trial was held. By a jury of Italians, not Americans. Jurors who wore sashes in the colors of the Italian flag. They were once again prosecuted by the same prosecutor (who is still appealing his own prison sentence for corruption). Only the judge was different. And this judge demanded evidence. And this judge demanded justice. Judge Pratillo Hellmann made Italy justifiably proud. I have been in more Federal Courtrooms in the United States than I can count. The controlled, careful and fair manner in which Judge Hellmann conducted this trial was, if anything, superior to what I have come to expect even in a U.S. federal court.
In Italian law, after a not guilty verdict, a defendant already incarcerated in prison obtains their release several hours later at the prison. Only very rarely will a judge order that a defendant be “released immediately.” On those rare occasions that this occurs, according to Italian attorneys I spoke to, it is considered a ‘slap’ at the prosecutor(s). Judge Hellmann ordered that Amanda and Raffaele be “released immediately.” The immediate release was an obvious signal of the judge’s extreme dissatisfaction the prosecution.
Following the verdict, a crowd of over 1,000 Italians formed around the courthouse, and a cheer went up when Amanda’s sister Deanna spoke of her release. Many times in Perugia, I experienced an indication of the overwhelming Italian sentiment of Amanda’s innocence. Italians would learn that I was involved in the case, and I would find that my drinks had been paid for, unrequested desserts came to the table, and strangers came to encourage or to hug me. People who spoke no English would walk past and cross their fingers in the “good luck” sign, smiling. The Italian public had figured this one out.
At the end, the Italian (legitimate) press was vociferously in Amanda’s corner. Immediately following the verdict, I looked over at two of my newfound friends in the Italian television media, and tears were rolling down their smiling cheeks. The prosecutor Mignini tried to couch this trial as racism (the actual murderer was black), and then as nationalism (big, bad America trying to step on poor little Italy). But in doing so, he only managed to prove the truth of Dr. Samuel Johnson’s immortal 1775 quote: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Insightfully, the judge, the jury and the Italian public chose to disregard his attempts at jury nullification and decided this case on fact rather than jingoism and prejudice.
Sadly, the vindictiveness of a corrupt local system is not easily escaped. About half an hour after the initially popular verdict, a “spontaneous” anti-Knox demonstration began outside the court. In a striking bit of serendipity, the “spontaneous demonstrators” just happened to have megaphone with them that night, and all knew what they would chant. Though in jeans and polo shirts, the demonstrators (all men between their middle-20’s and late 40’s) bore startling, almost eerie individual resemblances to the dozens of policemen who had originally signed the warrants against Amanda and Raffaele, and who had been in court that night in a “show of solidarity.” Many of those officers are the same ones suing Amanda for claiming that she had been slapped in her interrogation. (The required tape of the interrogation of prisoners in Italy is inexplicably absent. Go figure.)
After the ‘impromptu’ demonstration, the men began individual fist-fights with Italian Amanda supporters, (I counted at least five such fights) and generally shamed the town of Perugia at a moment when the city deserved to be basking in the glory of the world spotlight. I want to point out here that the people of Perugia are good, honorable people, by and large. The Carabinieri (military) police in the town are honorable and professional. But the local police and the local prosecutor ruthlessly run the town. As an example, while we were in Perugia, five people were arrested---in the courtroom---by the local police. All for criticizing the prosecutor in some way or another. My wife was one of those arrested, and awaits a decision as to whether she will be charged with “contempt” which carries with it a possible three-year prison sentence.
The relief I feel at Amanda and Raffaele’s release is indescribable. I also feel additional relief that on-line Amanda-haters are by and large a thing of my past. We had dealt with them until now only to counter their hateful propaganda in front of an uninformed public. Now, it’s not even important to answer them because truly, nobody cares about what they say anymore.
They and others who refuse to accept this Italian court verdict (while arbitrarily accepting the first court’s verdict) are already receding into insignificance, and even the echoes of their hateful diatribes and death threats are fading into the ether. I do not think that they will ever be convinced of Amanda’s obvious innocence, nor do I think they are done spewing propaganda. Frustration produces anger, and like an infant who throws a tantrum when put down for a nap, I assume they will make a lot of indiscriminate noise that does nothing but irritate those around them. But they can now be grouped by society with those who claim to have been kidnapped by UFO’s, doubters in the moon landings and 9/11 conspiracy theorists. As one of my favorite philosophers, Stan Marsh of “South Park,”once said to Eric Cartman about such conspiracy mongers: “25% of society is crazy.” This is truth, and it is truth that the anti-Amanda crazies will continue to validate. But now they have been refuted by the same justice system they touted for years, and eventually, like the child put down for a nap, will become distracted and move on to other things. They will soon be looking for new things and people to hate. (Though those of them who crossed the lines of civil and criminal behavior will soon find that they have not been forgotten and that legal redress waited only for Amanda’s repatriation.)
What remains is to ensure that this does not happen again. As Egan said, “Perhaps the tide from Perugia will lift other boats.” For this to happen, though, pompous prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, forensic perjurer Patrizia Stefanoni, and mind-reading detective Edgardo Giobbi (and others), must be prosecuted for their corruption. The judge who rubber-stamped the lies in the first trial, Massei, must also be called to the bar of justice—or back to law school. That is what will occupy some of my time for the next few years, I’m sure. But for right now, I am in the mood to bathe in the warmth of the freedom of Amanda Knox. The sunshine of the justice she obtained should warm the entire world.
At this moment, I find that the word “elation” is woefully inadequate to describe my emotions. Euphoria might be a closer word, but euphoria eventually fades. As long as I live, I will remember that late night in the courtroom when two innocents were rescued from a cabal of evil men.
Posted from Florence, Italy, September 28, 2011
The Perugia Witch Trial continues…..
Well, the façade is down. No more trying to hide it. This is a witch trial. These are not my words, but the words of Carlo Pacelli, an attorney fighting to obtain monetary damages from Amanda Knox. Pacelli finally said (in court, on record) what everybody already knew the prosecution thought:
“Amanda Knox is a witch!”
Like the Salem inquisitions and other publicly sanctioned murders, the initial trial was based on rumors, lies, accusations, and a “confession” obtained from (psychological) torture techniques that the prosecutors in Salem would have killed for. Finally, any and all evidence clearing an innocent person was intentionally disregarded.
Patrick Lumumba is suing Amanda Knox for €80,000 for implicating him in the murder, a statement the detectives forced and beat from her after an overnight foodless, sleepless interrogation, using techniques developed by the North Koreans to brainwash U.S. pilots during the Korean War. (See injusticeinperugia.com for details.) Being sued for something you were forced to do is kind of like being rammed by a drunk policeman, then being ticketed for littering because the body of your passenger is on the freeway.
So, at least it’s finally out in the open and we can go on, confident that, at least we understand each other.
In other news:
On September 28th, 2010, Pepperdine University and I parted company, at their request. I am no longer at liberty to discuss why. (But it was not a mutual decision. Pepperdine and I settled "out of court" the lawsuit I subsequently filed. I can't speak for Pepperdine, but I am very satisfied with the resolution of the suit.)
At Pepperdine, I shared responsibility for security of their worldwide campuses and the students that studied there (including those in Florence, Italy). In a magnificent display of God's sense of irony, today I find myself in Florence, Italy.
When something you initially perceive as bad (or really bad) occurs, remember that it could be God intervening to change your course for the better. I believe this is the case with my change of direction one year ago today. I have not felt so fulfilled, at peace, and certain I was on the right side of an issue in my life. It might be the best bad thing to ever happen to me, and that's saying a lot. Pepperdine is a fine, even spectacular university and I hope and pray that they flourish all over the world. Their students are among some of the finest people I have ever met.
So, today, in Florence, Michelle and I will celebrate God's provision for us, not mark a somber occasion.
1. “Courtesy in behavior or speech”
Last week, I posted my response to the Ann Coulter 'drive-by op-ed' on this blog, and later that week, on groundreport.com. Since then, it has received more than 3,500 views. I am gratified at the response, but suspect it had much more to do with the name Coulter than it did with the name Moore.
Less gratifying, unfortunately, were many of the comments I received about the article. If you read the article, you may remember that my hypothesis was that people should be judged one at a time, and not by any group with which they are affiliated. Affiliation with a group is not tacit endorsement of everything done by everything in that group. I am a Christian, but I don't endorse abortion clinic bombings; or for that matter violence of any nature in the name of God. Nobody wants (or deserves) to be judged by the actions of everyone in a group they belong to, or worst of all, a family into which they were born. That's prejudice, bias and sometimes hatred.
While I did not tally up the 'for' and 'against,' in the comments, it appeared to be about two-thirds in favor of the article, and the remaining one-third.....well, they hated my guts. With the exception of one or two actual attempts to debate the subject matter, the rest (50 or so) were simply personal attacks. And not just on me, but on my wife, too! Where did that come from? The bottom line, however, is that the dissenters on this article either didn't read the article, or are heroically trying to prove me right. They also illustrate why I have elected not to receive comments on my articles on this blog. [Changed now, he got braver. -administrator]
I present some of the more entertaining (and less threatening or vulgar) comments, solely to strengthen the hypothesis of my article. Enjoy.
“Moore can go on over to Red China and enjoy retirement with his Commie peers” (Is California an acceptable substitute?)
“Not only do you not speak Italian, but you have never even been to Italy.” (True. I do not speak Italian. How I ever thought I could investigate a crime is beyond me. Good thing the FBI never asked. As far as never being in Italy, several airlines owe me a refund.)
“We know you are not very well educated, Mr Moore” (This is not my fault, private universities are not what they used to be.)
"You and your eccentric wife….. are useless, publicity-obsessed clowns." (We are not useless.)
Shut up, Moore - you fat clown.(I thought you had to be tall and intelligent to get into the FBI.) (You do. I got a waiver.)
"....moronic, delinquent three-year-old...." (You forgot about the part in the article where you disagreed with me. You know, what I'm wrong about?)
"Shut up Michelle - you Moron." (Apparently, one reader felt that a pro-Steve poster was actually Michelle. It wasn’t.)
"Don't forget that as well as Mr Moore's extensive career and military credentials, Jesus would also like him for a sunbeam." (That hurts, as it obviously came from a Baptist. Or a Nirvana fan.)
"You are raving…... Calm down and find a job." (I was excited until I found out the word wasn't 'ravishing.')
"Wasn't smart enough to go to EITHER med school or law school." (Again, an obvious requirement for investigations or opinions. Not sure if I was or was not smart enough. Never applied to either. I did get a congressional nomination to the Air Force Academy. Again, education failed me.)
"...Pilot that became a campus security guard..." (I just always wanted to ride in golf carts)
"I feel sorry for your shallow intellect." (Mom? Is that you?)
"What, are you a Communist now that you're out of the FBI, which you infiltrated." (Confused. Did I infiltrate the communists or the FBI?)
"You are a self-destructive nut without a cause.....mercurial madness...." (The "mercurial madness" allegation made me really mad. Then, it didn't. Then it did again.)
"Are you trying to kill your own mother?, what an opening to your crappy opinion piece." (How is that tin-foil hat working out for you?)
"You gonna plop on your fat behind. Roll down the hill, baby…." (Stop looking at my butt.)
"You've always hated women. Now it's Ann Coulter alias your Mom. Maybe Mom and Ann both have gunsafe fuller than yours, that the problem?" (Mom's gun safe can't hold a candle to mine.)
"When are you going to turn on Michelle and Megan(sic)?" (Michelle is already turned-on by me. Meg will always see me as just "dad." But thanks for the gross question.)
"Steve was reassigned as a pilot and is awfully young to have "retired" from the FBI." (Awwwwww.....shucks. Thank you.)
"I feel genuine pity for the man and hope that he can find effective treatment." (Doctors have determined that the most effective treatment for me involves hand-rolled cigars and single-malt scotch. I accept donations care of injusticeinperugia.com. I KNOW some of you are from the UK. Give 'till it hurts.)
"You are clearly beyond educating, Moore. Find yourself an easy job and leave the serious stuff to clever people." (I'm looking into politics.)
"Mr Moore and his wife lost every single shred of credibility outside of the US bible belt when they said they were doing God's work….[they] should be ignored immediately due to their over reliance on myths and 2000 year old fairy stories. If you want to get any respect back Steve, start listening to reason as opposed to God or your wife." (Remember, ignore Steve because he believes in God, not because of facts. Obviously, nobody who believes in God can be competent. I sincerely hope your next airline pilot doesn't believe in God.)
"Go read some Richard Dawkins, Phillip Pullman and Douglas Adams then laugh at your bible and start living your life without fear of someone who doesn't actually exist." (Let's bet on the whole 'existence of God' thing. No money, we've already got more than that riding on it.)
"To begin with you say you are a career FBI agent. OK so why is it, given your age, you are no longer employed by the FBI?" (How old do you think I am?)
"You state that you have all these qualifications. (Helicopter pilot etc;) So how come you are not gainfully employed ferrying workers out to oil rigs in the gulf?" (Have you ever been to Morgan City, Louisiana?)
"An undercover agent! How exciting, and how long did you sit in the car wearing a suit as a disguise while eating donuts?" (Not sure if Apple Fritters are officially donuts.)
"A certified sniper. Congratulations upon being able to hit a barn from the inside..." (I think you are unclear on the concept....You don't happen to live in a barn, do you? Would you mind terribly standing next to one?)
"Thank God your wife is working, probably at MacDonalds (sic)." (So that's where you've been Michelle?)
I'll finish with something that will (regrettably) enrage some of my new "fans:" A closing analogy which mentions both guns and God.
When I was on SWAT, my son once asked me what I would do if a gang-banger tried to shoot me with a machine gun. (That's the gun part)
"I would thank God," I said. (That's the God part)
"Why??" He asked, incredulous.
The answer was very simple. Once the trigger is pulled, a machine gun is about as controllable as a fire hose (which is frequently manned by two fire fighters.) Unless a person is highly trained, machine guns cannot be effectively aimed once it starts firing. And firing at 800 rounds a minute, they will empty themselves in about two seconds. So all the bullets go over your head, and the shooter is unarmed almost immediately. The shooters who concerned us were those who were careful, deliberate, held a gun properly and seemed to know what they were doing.
The individuals who responded to my article are like those machine-gun-toting gang-bangers. Their 'weapons' apparently made them feel powerful, yet ultimately, their responses were un-reasoned, out of control, and completely ineffectual. I'm almost disappointed, because the facts are on my side, and I'd kind of like to debate them.
And Michelle, please bring home a Big Mac. Combo. And Super-Size it.
At Long Last, Ms. Coulter,
have You No Sense of Decency?
This is a difficult article to write. It’s kind of like being a cop and finding out that the burglar you’re looking for is your mom.
You see, I’m a lifelong Republican. I tell you this not because I want to pick a political fight, argue ideology, make you like me, or certainly make you dislike
me. I tell you this because I am having an identity crisis. For years, you see, I watched Fox News, and for a while I even listened to Rush. I thought Ann Coulter was irreverent, a little over-the-top, but generally right, though I occasionally winced at her statements.
I was a career FBI Agent, the son
of an FBI Agent. I was a SWAT team-member, a certified sniper, an undercover agent, and a helicopter pilot. I followed terrorism investigations overseas into Pakistan and Indonesia. I have (and wear) American flag lapel pins. I own guns. I haven’t voted for a Democrat for president since….well, ever. I am a member of the National Rifle Association, and I am an NRA certified Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor. I do not buy carbon credits. I have never even sat in a Suburu. My current car has 300 unapologetic horsepower. I love animals but enjoy a good steak.
I consider myself a Christian. I believe God loves me in spite
of my weaknesses and failures, not because of their absence. I depend on God daily to teach me, to give me guidance, and to shape me into a person who cares more about others than I do myself. I am not there yet, by the way, but that’s not an excuse not to keep trying.
And now, to my amazement, I’ve just found out that I’m a “Liberal.”
This comes as a terrific surprise to me, but if Ann Coulter says it, it must be true, as she’s never wrong. In fact, not only am I a liberal, but according to her, I’m suffering from a “psychological disorder.”
According to her, I’m also “demonic”
because I “intentionally defend the guilty and impugn the innocent,” I “side with barbarians,”
because “a fair and just system of law challenges [my] hegemony as a “judge of the universe.”
As you may understand, this has come as quite a shock to me. How did this happen? How could I have been so wrong about myself?
Apparently, this radical change happened when I discovered that an innocent person had been convicted of murder and I tried to do something about it. Maybe it happened to you, too. (If so, don’t tell Ann Coulter.)
In an article on September 7, 2011, mean-spiritedly entitled “Amanda Knox: The New Mumia,”
Coulter uses lists of long-discredited, flat-earth-society “facts” to postulate the guilt of Amanda Knox, the American College student railroaded for murder in Italy in 2007. Coulter initially branded Knox as guilty several years ago, based on Knox’s alleged purchase of bleach on the morning after the murder of her roommate. This type of American press savagery is partially why Knox is still in prison four years later. Because this alleged bleach purchase never happened: No bleach was ever found, no records of any such purchase exist, the checkout employee flatly stated that Knox was not in the store that morning; and regardless, the crime scene that Knox is wrongly accused of causing was not cleaned with bleach
. I knew these things about the bleach at the time Coulter said them, but I simply chalked it up to the fact that investigating violent crime wasn’t a hobby for me. But I was still disappointed, because Coulter and I shared some conservative political
views and I trusted her. (Now that I realize I am a ‘liberal’ I am not sure how this could have been possible.)
After Coulter’s unfounded bleach “fact” was shown to be apocryphal, she fell into a long silence about the case. I naturally assumed that she had learned that the facts on which she based her conclusion were wrong, and that she therefore changed her opinion and was weighing how to best help this innocent girl. Instead, Coulter fired back this week with a list of even more incorrect, discredited facts; an article simply breathtaking in its naiveté. The problem with this isn’t simply that people more knowledgeable about the crime than her (lawyers, FBI agents, judges, scientists, DNA experts, senators, FBI profilers, almost a dozen members of the Italian Parliament, Pulitzer-prize winning journalists and New York Times Best-Selling authors) have all come to the conclusion that Knox is innocent. The problem is that Coulter is quoting “facts” discredited over a year ago.
The other problem is that that if you disagree with her, you are evil.
Coulter alleges in her 9/7 masterwork; “Now liberals are howling that the DNA evidence was "contaminated,….”
For the readers’ edification, here is a short list of just some of the ‘liberals’ who have spoken out in favor of Amanda Knox’s innocence: Megyn Kelly, Shepard Smith of Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, Geraldo Rivera, and Donald Trump, who recently attended a tree-hugging, “pinko” rally held by a group calling themselves the “Tea Party.” In fact, a recent meeting between me and another “liberal” who believes Knox was railroaded was held at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, because both of us are inexplicable admirers of the man.
In her magnificently naïve article of the 7th, Coulter quotes more than a dozen “facts,” all of which she says proves Knox’s guilt, and all
of which have been thoroughly deconstructed. If not, the fact that the DNA evidence was false would not have any bearing on the case, and the release of Knox would not be imminent. I have no intention at this point of going point by point through Coulter’s charges, which appear to say something, but hide the real truth. I would rather argue with a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. (Or have dental surgery in Somalia.) There are only so many times I can stand to say the same thing to a stone wall. If you care to see the real facts of the Knox case, visit injusticeinperugia.org.
But what is more striking than Coulter’s incredible ignorance about the case is her startlingly bigoted assessment of anybody who disagrees with her. She leaves the intelligent reader speechless and just a little afraid.
But this shouldn’t surprise us, really. Coulter is becoming a pariah even to conservatives. Until 2001, for instance, Coulter was a columnist for National Review Online,
a sharply conservative publication. But she was fired. Why? Jonah Goldberg, editor at large of NRO said at the time; “We did not ‘fire’ Ann for what she wrote…we ended the relationship because she behaved with a total lack of professionalism, friendship and loyalty.”
Coulter’s syndicated column was dropped by the Arizona Daily Star in August 2005, because, “Many readers find her shrill, bombastic and mean-spirited. And those are the words used by readers who identified themselves as conservatives.”
It’s not simply the bigotry inherent in her statements that is disturbing. It is the propaganda-like nature of her tactics. Propaganda is defined as “Information of an intentionally misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.” The best propaganda is that which has the ring of truth, but hides the salient facts. In that way, propaganda is like a bikini; what it shows appears to be important. But what it hides is crucial.
In short, propaganda is not defined so much by what it says, as by what it hides. For instance, Coulter never mentions (conveniently) that the prosecutor in the Knox case has been convicted and sentenced to prison for malfeasance, and was under indictment at the time he prosecuted Knox. His crime? The abuse of the rights of innocent suspects and random, vicious threats and accusations. You would think this germane to the conversation, would you not? But Coulter leaves that gem out. As Coulter herself said in 2002, “I don’t pretend to be impartial or balanced….”
Coulter also conveniently omits that the loss of the DNA evidence she blames on American liberals was actually at the hands of court-selected Italian (not Italian-American) DNA scholars designated as independent experts by the Italian judge. The only American officially involved in the case is Amanda Knox.
But still, it is “liberals”
who are trying to spring a ‘guilty’ Amanda. As an example; Coulter spews the following; “From Tawana Brawley, Mumia and the Central Park rapists, to the Duke lacrosse players and Karl Rove, liberals are always on the wrong side of a criminal case. A few times could be a coincidence; every time is evidence of a psychological disorder.”
Let’s be clear on this; I was outraged by the Brawley lies, I believe Mumia was guilty, and I find justice and immense peace in the fact that murderer Leonard Peltier will die in prison. But I also know from a quarter-century in the FBI that most criminal cases do not split on party lines.
As described in her (eponymous?) book "Demonic," Coulter alleges that“liberals defend the guilty and impugn the innocent not only because they side with barbarians, but because a fair and just system of law challenges their hegemony as judges of the universe.”
This hurts me now that I find that I am a liberal. And because I have friends who are liberal. It also hurts me because it’s stupid. It’s a statement that might fit some (on both sides), but as a blanket statement, it is pure bigotry. Not surprising from a woman who famously stated in the British newspaper, “The Guardian,” “[The United States] would be a much better country if women didn’t vote.”
Maybe it would be a better country if this particular woman couldn’t communicate.
What Coulter has written bears more similarity to a drive-by shooting than it does to a journalistic endeavor. Denigrating and dehumanizing those who disagree with her is really not original, it was used with flair in the early 1950’s when Senator Joseph McCarthy went on a reactionary rampage using as his antagonist not “liberals” but “communists.” But the methods were the same; if you disagreed with McCarthy, you were obviously a communist. And like McCarthy’s rampage, innocent, real people are getting hurt.
It is to the conservative movement’s shame that they did not ‘self-police’ the problems with Joseph McCarthy. I hope to become a conservative again, notwithstanding Ann Coulter’s permission. But now I know how peaceful Muslims feel about Al Qaeda. If I, as a conservative, stay silent about Coulter and other demagogues, then the ideas in which I truly believe will be viewed not on their merit, but by the people who espouse them. I don’t want people to think of Ann Coulter when they hear the word “conservative” any more than many “liberals” want be defined by Michael Moore (I hope.) I also wish that when people heard the name “Jesus” they didn’t think of politics.
Maybe Coulter’s own words will do the trick. It took Edward R. Murrow, other senators and McCarthy’s own excesses to ruin him. Murrow’s words about McCarthy seem strangely prescient in this instance: “We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to associate, to speak and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.”
Finally though, the most appropriate rebuke for McCarthy, and again, strangely fitting for Coulter, was a moral rebuke, and came from Chief Counsel of the United States Army Joseph Welch during a senate hearing. Welch had recommended a young attorney to work for the very committee that McCarthy was using as a career springboard. But McCarthy found out that the attorney was a member of the “Lawyers Guild,” which McCarthy maintained was a communist front. He then attacked this young attorney in public, not with real facts, but with innuendo, attempting to destroy his career to further his own; a type of political vampirism. Finally, Welch had had enough. With deep emotion, Welch rebuked McCarthy during a hearing in one of the most dramatic moments in congressional history. “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty, or your recklessness. Fred Fisher is a young man who went to the Harvard Law School and came into my firm and is starting what looks to be a brilliant career with us…..” “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
Welch speaks eloquently for us today. Until Coulters September 7th article in which she attempts to sacrifice an innocent girl’s future on the altar of the god who would guarantee her own, I had really never gauged her cruelty and her recklessness. Amanda Knox is a fine young woman who was railroaded by a deranged prosecutor in Italy in a failed attempt to save his own career. Ann Coulter is now using that tragedy to further her own career. So now we are left with just one question;
“Have you no decency, Ms. Coulter? At long last, have you no sense of decency?”
Bridget Bishop was the first to be hung in Salem for witchcraft. She was a twice-widowed tavern owner, owning "an ordinary" on the road between Salem and Beverly. She served a new and powerful drink called "rum" to many of the sailors who frequented her place. The sailors also played an evil new game called "shuffleboard that upset many of the neighbors. Bridget wore bright clothes, a major offense in the eyes of the Puritans of Salem.
A great public outcry has erupted in the United States about the not-guilty verdict in Florida. Almost everybody seems to have an opinion on Anthony’s guilt or innocence, and most are not afraid to express them.
I want to say up front that I am not about to advocate for either the innocence or the guilt of Casey Anthony.
Once again, we have millions of people making a personal determination on guilt or innocence dependent solely on what they heard in the press. Of these millions of people, maybe dozens were ever in the courtroom for a single day. While Americans were dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, while Jason Puracal, an innocent American was being held captive on trumped-up murder charges in Nicaragua, while the extent and tactics of the railroading of Amanda Knox in Italy was being exposed to the rest of the world, a great mass of the American press was focused on one case in one (obviously gut-wrenching) murder trial. This was not any great search for justice, any great quest to honor the memory of a poor, murdered girl; this was a quest for ratings; and with ratings, for career; and with career; fame and money.
(I say this with some trepidation, because I have in the past appeared on these same shows. And likely will not be asked again after this post).
With the motivations enumerated above, what would advance the interests of this segment of the media? Facts that supported Anthony’s innocence? Or sensational facts that cause more buzz? I would postulate that anything that would work against or disprove the perceived (and reported) wanton, cold, sociopathic killing of an adorable child would tend to calm the anger and the blood-thirst of an angry population, which would hurt ratings. It is the very anger and desire for retribution of much of the populace that causes them to watch these types of shows. This is the modern equivalent of the mob which chased the Frankenstein monster with pitch forks and torches. These are not all the viewers, but they are certainly some.
Therefore, the media has a vested interested in broadcasting salacious details of these types of cases, and a disincentive for broadcasting or exposing exculpatory information. These news shows are not the New York Times, either. They are shows that appeal to a different audience and are in the running for Pulitzer Prizes much the same way Animal House was in the running for an Oscar. I have a built-in distrust of these types of shows. I’ve seen it from the inside.
I am not saying that Casey Anthony is in reality innocent of the charges. I am not saying that she is guilty, either. I am saying that I haven’t seen the evidence, and until I do, I will have to trust the jury, the court and the justice system for the verdict.
Too often, there is a tendency to "follow the crowd" and make a determination of guilt or innocence based simply on what appears in tabloids, or the rumors one has heard. This is why Amanda Knox is in prison. I am disturbed by people decrying the Anthony verdict who I know for sure know nothing about the case. I do not want to ever make a public statement on a person's guilt or innocence until I have done my "due diligence." I was involved in the investigation of at least one FBI Agent involved shooting. Several law enforcement officers were at the scene of a short but vicious gun-battle. The only one who did not shoot was the FBI Agent. I asked several of the agents from other agencies why they shot. Two said, "My partner shot at the guy, so I shot, too." So I asked, "But what was the suspect doing that was dangerous? Did he have a gun? Was he shooting? What?" The answer was disturbing; "I didn't see what he was doing, I was backing up my partner." The agent I spoke to, I am relieved to say, said; "I didn't know why everybody was shooting. I didn't see the threat." Sending bullets 'down-range' without knowing what's going on can kill an innocent person based on the repeated, un-examined mistake of the one officer.
I have yet to hear of a person who really understands the evidence in the Amanda Knox case say that they believe she is guilty. Yet, during the first trial, there was no shortage of uninformed people willing to say Amanda was guilty; people who knew little or nothing about the real evidence. I am not saying that only those who sat through the case in its entirety or had access to the raw evidence can make an informed decision. The more evidence you have, the more informed a decision one can make. But most people were making pronouncements without any functional knowledge at all. I actually heard someone say, "That American girl? What's her name? Oh, she's a witch." She didn't even know her name. Yet she claimed to know enough to condemn her. Some have seen the available evidence in the Anthony case in the legitimate press and have made more informed decisions. In the Amanda Knox case, I did the same thing. And once I saw the actual evidence, I changed my mind about believing the jury: Amanda Knox was framed. I learned that I cannot always trust every jury and every justice system. I have no idea whether Casey Anthony killed her daughter. But it is somewhat moot, as Casey is not in prison.
In the U.S., defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty.
There is a term in aviation called the "failure mode." It is what happens to a particular piece of the airplane when that piece fails. For instance, when traffic lights fail; rather than displaying green on all sides, which would be disastrous, they fail to a flashing red. When aircraft hydraulics fail, the landing gear generally falls down. When electronic engine controls fail, the engine generally goes to 3/4 power, not idle, which means you can get to an airport. It is all aimed at insuring that if something goes terribly wrong, that the best result possible happens. An example of a bad failure mode is the DC-10. As United Airlines found out over Sioux City, Iowa, when you lose hydraulic pressure in a DC-10, the airplane is no longer controllable. 184 of 296 people died, because the failure mode was not considered.
U.S. courts do not always default to the "innocent" position when they fail. But they are supposed to. So when I see a very controversial verdict and realize that the decision was made in favor of innocence, I at least have the comfort in knowing that the failure was, if it was a failure, in the right direction.
In the U.S., when the justice system fails, it fails to the "innocent" mode. I'm glad it does. If it failed to the guilty mode, anybody who could not prove their innocence would go to jail or be executed. I almost threw a hammer through the TV when O.J. Simpson, who I believed (and still believe) killed two people, was acquitted. But compared to Amanda Knox doing (so far) four years in an Italian prison for a murder she did not commit, that anger and frustration was inconsequential. The “failure to innocence” is a standard from Biblical times. These are some of my favorite examples of the depth and breadth of the standard of “innocent until proven guilty,” and the greater need to protect the innocent than to punish the guilty.
On 3 October 1692, while decrying the Salem witch trials, Increase Mather wrote, "It were better that Ten Suspected Witches should escape, than that the Innocent Person should be Condemned."
Benjamin Franklin wrote: "It is better [one hundred] guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer," or even better;
God: (Exodus 23:7) "Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty." Note: God says WE might acquit the guilty, but HE will not.
And finally: Abraham and God when God said he was going to destroy Sodom;
“Then Abraham approached [God] and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
Abraham bargained him down through several levels until God finally agreed to spare an entire city if it would have cost the punishment of ten innocent persons.
Abraham asked; “What if only ten can be found there?”
[God] answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”
Is Casey Anthony innocent? I believe that the prosecution was not able to prove her guilt. If she was guilty, then that was their burden and they failed to meet it.
If the justice system failed, it failed in the safest mode.
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?
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.