Monday, September 20, 2010

Shielded from Justice: Transparency vs. Conspiracy of Silence

(1) The federal government should provide timely and thorough reports in compliance with its human rights treaty obligations, should disseminate information to state and local entities regarding U.S. obligations under international human rights law, and should cooperate with international human rights investigators in a manner consistent with its obligations.

  • The United States is obliged to submit periodic reports to the U.N. Human Rights Committee, the Committee against Torture, and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, due to its ratification of these international instruments. To date, its reporting has been incomplete (in the case of the Human Rights Committee) or more than two years overdue (in the case of the other two committees). In the future, reporting could be made more responsive through better data collection, more candid descriptions of continuing shortcomings, and, perhaps most importantly, political will to compile timely and thorough reports.

  • The federal government has a duty to disseminate information to state and local entities regarding U.S. obligations under international human rights treaties to which it is party. So far, no such efforts have been undertaken in a serious or consistent manner. The federal government must disseminate this information without delay.

  • When Special Rapporteurs or other U.N. investigators conduct missions in the United States, relevant U.S. officials at all levels should assist them by providing information requested, arranging meetings with officials at all levels of government involved in police accountability issues, and studying the U.N. reports once released, including their recommendations. Specifically, local and federal officials should review the report released in April 1998 by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. He investigated killings by police and raised concerns regarding the absence of national data on this issue, the poor quality of some investigations of killings by police, and the low rate of criminal prosecution in cases of police abuse resulting in death. The Special Rapporteur recommended: enhanced training on international standards on law enforcement and human rights; independent investigations of deaths in custody; and the use of special prosecutors.

(2) The federal government should compile and publish relevant, nationwide statistical data on police abuse, to inform its own policymaking, to maintain oversight of local data-collection, and to facilitate monitoring by both governmental and nongovernmental entities.

  • The Justice Department should provide an annual report on the number of complaints alleging human rights violations against police officers received and investigated, and the number of officers indicted or convicted under the federal criminal civil rights statutes. The report should contain an analysis of such issues as official acts of racial discrimination, trends in types of abuse, difficulties in prosecuting cases, and sources of information.

  • The Justice Department should compile data on the excessive-use-of-force and produce an annual report on this topic, as instructed by Congress in 1994. Pilot surveys and preliminary reports released by the Justice Department so far have not yielded useful information on this topic. The data compilation should include information provided by citizen review agencies or mechanisms, and civil rights groups, rather than the current project's reliance on police departments to report voluntarily. As conducted so far, this project is unresponsive to Congress's instructions. The Civil Rights Division shouldprovide additional oversight and guidance, and reallocate the Justice Department's grants to ensure that this congressional mandate is fulfilled.

  • Congress should withhold federal grants intended for police departments that have failed to provide data on the use of excessive force. Congress, which has reportedly failed to provide adequate funding for data compilation on police use of excessive force should do so without delay, provided that the research projects are refocused to fulfill the congressional mandate. Members of Congress should also monitor the Justice Department's efforts to compile these data and insist that use of excessive force data be produced immediately.

  • Under new authority, the Civil Rights Division's Special Litigation Section may bring "pattern or practice" lawsuits against abusive police forces. To date there has been no comprehensive public report on the investigations or lawsuits undertaken. The Justice Department's report on use of excessive force, or a separate report released by the Civil Rights Division, should include: information on the police departments examined by the Civil Rights Division; the findings of these investigations; cooperation with local attorneys or civil rights groups supplying information to Justice Department about the police force; the status of the police departments' compliance with reforms requested by the Justice Department to avoid a lawsuit; and consent decrees reached or injunctions filed prohibiting abusive treatment. Any progress in police department compliance with consent decrees or other agreements should be noted, as should the methodology employed to monitor compliance. Further, the report should identify the reasons for the examination of a particular city's police department. Without widespread dissemination of information about consent decrees reached, the positive aspects of the agreements are undermined and, absent information to the contrary, the public presumes the Justice Department is not living up to its obligations. Moreover, the public has a right to know how the Justice Department is using its new civil powers.

  • The Justice Department should monitor and encourage local data collection efforts, to ensure that public access to useful, relevant data is maximized and to guarantee that federal policy can be made on the basis of sound assessments of the incidence and characteristics of police brutality.

  • The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights publishes periodic reports on police brutality in particular cities and regions. We urge additional funding for the commission to enhance its ability to hold public hearings, produce useful and timely reports, and make and monitor reform recommendations.

(3) Civilian review agencies, police departments' internal affairs units, city governments, and local prosecutors should regularly publish reports on their activities in relation to human rights violations committed by law enforcement officers. Where this requires additional funding, that funding should be provided; under-funding is no excuse for ignoring this responsibility to provide information to the public.

  • Citizen review agencies should publish reports, at least annually, presenting detailed statistics and information relating to complaints, trends, sustained rates for each type of complaint, disciplinary actions stemming from sustained allegations, policy recommendations (as well as the departmental responses to those recommendations), and community outreach efforts. The statistics should include breakdowns on the race and gender of the complainants and officers in question. The reports should also include examples of the types of abuse about which the agency has received complaints during the reporting period.

  • In those cities where the citizen review agency has been provided with a mandate that clearly precludes its intended, effective review of police practices, these mandates should be revised.

  • Review agencies should not limit themselves to handling individual complaints they have received, but should be empowered and financed to conduct investigations on their own initiative.

  • Review agencies are in a unique position to observe types of complaints of abuse and shortcomings of the police departments they monitor. For this reason, they should provide policy recommendations to the relevant police department.

  • Citizen review agencies should be automatically notified of the filing of civil lawsuits alleging police abuse, and should send the plaintiff information regarding his or her right to file a complaint with the review agency.

  • Police departments should eliminate the secrecy surrounding their handling of abuse allegations that is not directly and narrowly necessary to provide due-process protection for allegedly abusive police officers. Police are accountable to the public and must demonstrate that their practices and policies are adequate and conform to human rights standards. Police departments that claim to handle officers suspected of committing human rights violations appropriately should provide evidence in this regard to the public, either through regular publicreporting or improved responsiveness to requests for information. Police departments should provide a report, respecting privacy concerns, describing at least the number of officers disciplined, the offenses leading to punishment, and the types of punishment, over a set time period. Such a report should also include the names and number of officers indicted or convicted during the reporting period, and the charges brought against them; this information should never be withheld. District attorneys and federal prosecutors should provide information to the police department regarding the status of criminal charges against officers on the relevant police force.

  • Local prosecutors should maintain a list, available to the public upon request, of law enforcement officers who have been arrested, indicted, or convicted. The vast majority of the district and county attorneys queried by Human Rights Watch did not acknowledge maintaining such a list. Without such tracking, there is no way for federal prosecutors to know whether local prosecutors are handling sensitive police brutality cases appropriately and whether they should initiate federal investigations. It also leaves the public without basic information about the nature of the police force sworn to protect and serve it.

  • Nationwide, systematic data should be kept on the number and nature of civil lawsuits alleging police abuse, and how much is paid in each jurisdiction. As a start, cities should begin to publish reports on civil lawsuits, with descriptions of allegations, amounts paid through settlements or after a jury trial, and how the police department dealt with the officer named in each suit leading to significant settlements or jury awards, whether through retraining, counseling, or disciplinary sanctions.

can you hear me now?

Posted via email from ElyssaD's Posterous

Shielded from Justice: Obstacles to Justice

From filing a complaint to pursuing legal recourse, the victim of police abuse is faced with unnecessary difficulties and, in some cases, concerted opposition from police officers and powerful police unions. The chances of local criminal prosecution are slim, and of federal civil rights prosecution, even for strong cases, remote.

One area where the federal role in checking police abuse recently has been the Justice Department's enhanced is its new powers to conduct investigations to determine whether there is a "pattern or practice" of abuse in particular police departments and to bring lawsuits ordering reforms to end abusive practices. (In two cases, cities agreed to implement reforms to end violative practices rather than risk the Justice Department taking a case to court for injunctive action.) And although privately filed civil lawsuits are sometimes successful, they do not provide real redress; frequently, the officer in question escapes not only administrative punishment for the offense but also, because of indemnity policies, any personal financial liability.

Police departments and citizen review units, as a rule, will not initiate an investigation into alleged police brutality without a formal complaint. Yet in all of the cities examined by Human Rights Watch, there are serious flaws in the way complaints from the public are initially received or forwarded for action. Filing a complaint is unnecessarily difficult and often intimidating, whether the person seeking to complain deals with a precinct sergeant, an internal affairs investigator or, to a lesser extent, a civilian review agency. Complainants may be met with hostile officers who do not wish to receive a complaint about a colleague. They may be dissuaded from filing a complaint by threats or other techniques. Officers receiving complaints may suggest that they do not believe the complainant, or ask intimidating questions about the complainant's criminal history or charges that may be pending as a result of the arrest that gave rise to the abusive incident. Most police departments prohibit attempts to impede or dissuade a complainant from filing a complaint, yet supervisors rarely confront or punish officers who do so. As noted above, even if a complaint is filed, often the complainant is not advised about whether it has been pursued and the results of any investigation or disciplinary sanction against the subject officer.

Criminal prosecutions are difficult and, in isolation, generally do not lead to improvement in police practices. Police abuse experts warn that when the criminal law is used as a substitute for departmental standards - that is, standards built into a police department's system of discipline and promotion - the results are almost invariably disappointing. As we argue above, stricter internal discipline is essential if a pattern of police abuse is to be interrupted. That said, however, it is clear that local prosecutors must do more to hold criminally abusive officers accountable in order to redress serious crimes, show that police are not above the law, and restore public confidence in the police.

There are many reasons why prosecutors choose not to pursue a case against an allegedly brutal police officer. The traditionally close relationship between district or county attorneys and police officers, who usually work together prosecuting criminals, militates against the vigorous pursuit of police abuse cases. Because it is hard to grand juries (bodies that review a prosecutor's evidence in a case and decide whether or not to indict) and trial juries that a police officer did not merely make an understandable mistake but actually committed a crime, local prosecutors tend to shy away from these cases. In some jurisdictions, special procedural protections for public officials (including police officers) accused of criminal behavior make criminal indictment even less likely.

When local prosecutors fail to pursue serious cases of human rights violations at the hands of the police, it is the responsibility of the federal government to prosecute. Specifically, the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is responsible for prosecuting these cases under federal criminal civil rights statutes (18 U.S. Code, sections 241 and 242). Yet federal prosecutors almost never pursue even strong cases, due in part to the high legal threshold required to win such cases (prosecutors need to prove the accused officer's "specific intent" to deprive an individual of his or her civil rights) and a shortage of resources (indicating that civil rights prosecutions of law enforcement officers are a low priority). Of the thousands of complaints the Civil Rights Division receives annually, it prosecutes only a handful. Although federal prosecutors claim they play a "backstop" role in prosecuting officers, it is notable that even when local prosecutors decline prosecution or do a poor job in presenting a case, federal prosecutors still fail to step in. And, despite the Clinton administration's rhetorical support for civil rights, its rate of prosecution for these cases changed little from the Bush administration's.

Absent administrative or criminal accountability, many police abuse victims or their families rely on privately filed civil lawsuits for redress. In practice, private civil lawsuits usually allow police departments to continue doing business as usual. Some victims have succeeded in obtaining compensation from municipalities, and a small percentage of civil lawsuits have forced police departments themselves toaccept liability for ill-treatment, leading to reforms in training or flawed policies. But because most civil jury awards are paid by cities, most police departments acknowledge that they do not always track civil lawsuits, though an officer's behavior may have cost a city hundreds of thousands, or millions, of dollars in payments to victims. Moreover, even when a lawsuit demonstrates serious violations, there is usually no effort by police supervisors to consider civil lawsuits in an officer's performance evaluations. In the end, taxpayers are paying at least twice for officers who commit abuses, once for their salaries and again to pay victims of their abuse, while often getting little legitimate police work or protection from them.

When all of these systemic shortcomings in dealing with abuse by police officers are combined, it becomes understandable why officers who commit human rights violations have little reason to fear they will be caught, punished, or prosecuted.

International human rights treaties and guidelines set out standards for the conduct of law enforcement officers. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment protect the right to life and prohibit torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; both treaties have been ratified by the United States. There are also internationally agreed-upon standards regarding the use of force and firearms by police officers. For example, the U.N. Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, adopted in 1990, provides standards on recruitment, training, and the use of force. It calls for proportionality in the amount of force used when required, the adoption of reporting requirements when force or firearms are used, and for governments to ensure that "arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is punished as a criminal offence under their law."

International human rights monitoring entities have expressed concern over the problem of police abuse in the United States. For example, the Human Rights Committee, which is the international body charged with monitoring compliance with the provisions of the ICCPR by the U.S. and other States parties, concluded in 1995: "[T]he Committee is concerned at the reportedly large number of persons killed, wounded or subjected to ill-treatment by members of the police force in the purported discharge of their duties." Following a 1997 investigation into killings by police in the U.S., focusing on New York City and Los Angeles, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions expressed his concern over reports of violations of the right to life as a result of excessive force by law enforcement officials and stated his intention to continue to monitor this issue closely.

Posted via email from ElyssaD's Posterous

Shielded from Justice: Philadelphia: Police Administration/Internal Affairs Unit

The Philadelphia Police Department has approximately 6,000 officers. The police commissioner is only allowed to appoint a handful of the top commanders; the rest of the force is made up of civil service employees. Some analysts conclude that the police commissioner lacks total control because it is difficult to fire anyone in the department, because the rank and file members are backed by civil service laws.

In March 1998, John F. Timoney became Philadelphia's police commissioner. Timoney, who is a veteran of the New York City Police Department, has a mixed record on dealing with police abuse.65 Timoney reportedly stated that the Mollen Commission, which looked into police corruption and brutality in New York, madeofficers ineffectual in their duties and opposed criminal prosecution for perjury of officers involved in the 30th District scandal.66

The department's internal affairs units were reorganized in 1998, with the Internal Affairs Division, the anti-corruption Ethics Accountability Division, and the Headquarters Investigative Unit all becoming part of the Internal Affairs Bureau.67 Human Rights Watch was advised that IAD's staffing levels are "considered confidential."68 It was anticipated that the September 1996 agreement would lead to an increase in IAD personnel. Its complaint form is in many languages, including Spanish, English, Korean and Chinese.

The Internal Affairs Division has often, in effect, protected officers who committed human rights violations by failing to properly handle abuse complaints. A November 1995 investigative series in the Philadelphia Inquirer, for example, found that Internal Affairs sustained only a small percentage of complaints, but that even when there was punishment, it was minimal; and in rare cases where officers were fired, they often got their jobs back through arbitration. Similarly, a June 1993 task force report looking into allegations of brutality at a September 1991 demonstration found that the IAD investigation was "structurally and systemically slanted against persons complaining of police abuse."69 And in a more recent review of IAD files, police abuse expert and Temple University Prof. James Fyfe looked at internal investigations of off-duty incidents of shootings, beatings, and domestic violence. Fyfe found the files were very disorganized, items were missing, and IAD's findings were often flawed.70

In 1996, the Internal Affairs Division reported that it received a total of 221 citizen complaints alleging physical abuse.71 Ninety-three investigations of physical abuse were completed during the year (from previous years and 1996), resulting ineighteen complaints sustained. In 1995, Internal Affairs Division reports that it received a total of 223 citizen complaints alleging physical abuse, with eleven sustained.72 In 1994, there were 170 citizen complaints alleging physical abuse. Of the investigations into physical abuse allegations completed during 1994, seventeen were sustained.

The IAD reports contain racial breakdowns, showing that African-Americans and Latinos make up a disproportionate percentage of complainants, but complainant information is not provided for each type of complaint. Of the total of 577 citizen complaints of all types in 1996 (including physical abuse, abuse of authority, harassment, verbal abuse, lack of service, criminal and other misconduct), African-American and Latino men and women made up 67 percent of complainants.73 IAD does not provide breakdowns by police district, and no information is provided to the public, including the complainant, regarding what disciplinary sanctions, if any, were applied in sustained cases.

When a complaint against an officer is sustained, he or she may appeal to the Police Board of Inquiry, a three-officer panel that can overturn the IAD finding. And if that appeal is unsuccessful, an officer may submit the case to arbitration, which often leads to the overturning or lessening of a disciplinary sanction.

Beginning in 1993, IAD maintained a secret "at risk" officer list to monitor

officers who were the subjects of repeated complaints or civil lawsuits alleging abuses.74 The list contained the names of twenty-one officers, who together had accumulated 180 complaints and had been responsible for actions resulting in about $2 million in lawsuit settlements against the city. The "monitoring" appears to have been entirely passive, yet the FOP protested it anyway, saying that it was used against Officer Leo Ferreira to deny him a promotion. Ferreira reportedly had been the subject of twenty civilian complaints during a nine-year career - more than any other officer on the force. Only one of the twenty had been sustained, after the complainant passed a lie-detector test. The sixteen-year-old complainant reported that Ferreira banged his head into a pole, dragged his face across the sidewalk, and slammed his face into a car. Ferreira was suspended for two days and appealed the penalty. In 1994, the city paid $50,000 in a civil lawsuit to a lawyer who allegedFerreira beat him after the lawyer won dismissal of charges against a suspect the officer had arrested. In his defense, Ferreira says, "I have a wall with commendations on it."75

Another name on the same "at risk" list was Willie Robinson, who had thirteen complaints, with one sustained. He was suspended for four days in March 1995 after allegedly putting a gun to the heads of North Philadelphia residents after someone threw water at his patrol car. Robinson allegedly kicked several residents in the head, neck and back while they were on the ground. Robinson unintentionally left his radio on during the incident and was recorded on tape telling one of the men he would "blow his fucking brains out." He appealed his suspension.76 Also on the list was Detective Kenneth Rossiter, who allegedly had nine complaints, four of which were sustained (the high rate indicating very strong proof of abuses). Despite his record, he was promoted just after a 1990 incident during which he allegedly beat a seventeen-year-old; the complaint against him in this case was reportedly sustained in 1993.77

The IAD is notified by the City Solicitor's office when a civil suit is filed alleging police misconduct, and the IAD allegedly "monitors" the lawsuit's progression. Yet the filing of a civil suit alleging excessive force, or even the settlement or award in favor of the plaintiff, will not necessarily lead to an IAD investigation. The City Solicitor's office claims that if a very egregious case is settled, IAD might investigate.78

IAD findings, when against the officer, are often not used in performance reviews of officers. The often superficial reviews, known as "the halo effect" (a phrase used by the police, apparently indicating angelic behavior), rarely mention brutality charges against the officer, even if sustained. A Philadelphia Inquirer article reported that between 1990 and 1995, the police department fired eighty-two officers it found had committed robbery, rape, extortion, drug trafficking and other offenses. One was convicted of murder. Until they were fired, seventy-nine of the eighty-two officers received top performance ratings.79 In the first report by the anti-corruption czar James B. Jordan, he noted that the performance evaluation systemwas "a joke."80 He reportedly examined the files of one hundred officer who had been fired and found that all but one had previously received top ratings.

John Baird, of 39th District scandal fame, reportedly received perfect job ratings for fourteen years during which he allegedly beat and robbed suspects, planted drugs and gave perjured testimony.81 Undeserved perfect ratings undermine efforts by the department to fire officers, since they are able to win reinstatement, in part, by referring to their glowing records.

In another case, Officer Michael Jackson received satisfactory performance ratings and a "[K]eep up the good work" comment in his October 1996 written evaluation.82 Yet during the previous year, Jackson had been the subject of three outstanding citizens' complaints (one leading to a civil lawsuit), had been told his conduct was insubordinate, and had been suspended for thirty days for being absent without leave.83

In fact, city officials maintain it is nearly impossible to get rid of problem officers in the rare instances when the department gets tough with them. Since 1992, punishment imposed by the department has been lessened or reversed two-thirds of the time or in fifty-two of seventy-eight cases that went to arbitration; in twenty of the fifty-two, the arbitrator completely reversed the department's punishment.84 Police Commissioner Neal stated that it is "frustrating to no end, these people who are being fired are people who should not be part of the department."85 Said Mayor Rendell, "We will fire them and fire them and fire them."86 An FOP lawyer, ThomasJennings, told a reporter that beating the city in arbitration, where, as of 1995, paralegals often represented the city, was "like taking candy from a baby."87 And an attorney who represents the city in these cases said the city devotes little in the way of legal expertise and allows itself to be "outgunned" by the FOP lawyers.88

65 Mark Fazlollah and Henry Goldman, "New police chief out to repeat success," Philadelphia Inquirer, March 8, 1998.

66 Ibid.

67 Mark Fazlollah and Thomas J. Gibbons, Jr., "Timoney hires a special counsel," Philadelphia Inquirer, April 3, 1998.

68 Letter to Human Rights Watch from David Domzalski, police counsel, deputy city solicitor, November 6, 1996.

69 "Final report of the Citizens' Advisory Group," June 1, 1993, p. 1.

70 Human Rights Watch interview, August 19, 1996.

71 The Police Advisory Commission and IAD may receive the same complaints and may investigate them concurrently.

72 Prior to 1996, information regarding completed investigations by category of allegation were not provided.

73 According to 1990 census figures, African-Americans and Latinos made up approximately 45 percent of Philadelphia's population.

74 Mark Fazlollah, "Police track `at risk' officers," Philadelphia Inquirer, December 31, 1995.

75 Ibid.

76 Ibid. No further information regarding his appeal was available.

77 Ibid.

78 Telephone interview, City Solicitor's office, Shelly Smith, January 27, 1997.

79 Fazlollah, "Flawed reviews give..." Philadelphia Inquirer, April 21, 1996.

80 Fazlollah, "Conduct report praises police," Philadelphia Inquirer, November 20, 1997.

81 Ibid.

82 From report on Officer Jackson by Professor Fyfe as part of Greene v. Jackson, et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 2:97-cv-03931, filed June 9, 1997. There was a settlement in this case, for an undisclosed amount, which was entered into in February 1998. Telephone inquiry, U.S. District Court Clerk, May 19, 1998.

83 The same sergeant who gave the good performance evaluation was the superior who warned Jackson that he was insubordinate.

84 Gammage and Fazlollah, "Arbitration offers a route back to work," Philadelphia Inquirer, November 21, 1995.

85 Ibid.

86 Ibid.

87 Mark Fazlollah, "Repeated efforts at reform have gone little beyond paper," Philadelphia Inquirer, November 23, 1995.

88 Gammage and Fazlollah, "Arbitration offers a route back to work," Philadelphia Inquirer, November 21, 1995.

Posted via email from ElyssaD's Posterous

Shielded from Justice: Philadelphia Incidents

Philadelphia police, like many other police forces around the country, has earned the reputation of having a very tough attitude toward suspects, responding with violence to what officers perceive to be disrespect. As the PAC executive director told Human Rights Watch, "You cannot talk back to Philly cops."42 Many human rights abuses stem from this attitude, as verbal sparring quickly turns into physical attacks by police.

Officer John Baird: One product of the flawed internal affairs system was John Baird. In his deposition relating to the 39th District scandal, Baird stated, "I never feared an IAD investigation....[T]he way things were done, I mean, unless there is [sic] a whole lot of witnesses against you and a whole lot of pressure, you're not ever going to get found guilty of anything."43 Baird had been the subject of more than twenty complaints prior to pleading guilty to robbery, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to violate civil rights charges, yet received perfect job ratings throughout his career.44 In fact, investigations into Baird's actions, and those of other officers from the 39th District, only took place after one of the victims, Arthur Colbert, pursued his brutality and other complaints with the assistance of the public defender's office and, eventually, the U.S. Attorney's office.45 Colbert was stoppedby Baird and another officer in February 1991 and allegedly beaten and threatened with death if he did not provide information about his drug stash, even though there was no indication that he was dealing drugs.46 The investigation and prosecution of the officers proceeded only when one of the accused officers in the 39th District provided key information, and indictments soon followed.47

In his deposition, Baird claims an internal affairs detective told him he was not interested in doing civil rights cases because they are difficult. He claimed that he would never deny hitting people to IAD investigators. "On my brutality complaints, if I hit them, I usually hit them. I didn't deny if I hit them."48

Officer Rodney Hunt: Even though the city believed Officer Rodney Hunt was unsuitable to serve as a police officer, he remained on the force due to an arbitrator's decision. In two off-duty incidents in 1990 and 1991, Hunt shot and killed two men and wounded a woman bystander.49 On November 4, 1990, Hunt shot Sean Wilson several times after intervening in a bar fight; the bar was known as a drug trafficking and gambling center. Witnesses said that Wilson, who had shot at Hunt as the argument escalated, was shot while he was lying face down on the ground. According to a police abuse expert who examined the physical evidence, the witnesses were supported by the evidence: nine shots hit Wilson in the back, buttocks, and the back of the upper thigh, and forensic examination reportedly showed that at least one bullet hole in Wilson's jacket was made by a gun held rightnext to Wilson's body.50 Two of the exit wounds indicated that Wilson's body was pressed against a hard surface, such as the ground, when the bullets exited his body.51

Hunt had been the subject of other complaints, including one in 1990 claiming that when at a restaurant at 2:45 a.m., he and another officer got into a verbal dispute with other patrons.52 Hunt arrested a man at the restaurant for allegedly possessing a knife (it is unclear whether the knife existed); one of the complainants was convicted for disorderly conduct, and the complaint against Hunt was not sustained even though he allegedly pointed a gun at one of the complainants.

After the Sean Wilson shooting, Hunt was allowed to keep his gun. On March 24, 1991 - as a grand jury was investigating Wilson's death - Hunt killed another person in an off-duty dispute at a party.53 At a party at 3:00 a.m., Hunt shot a man and wounded a woman bystander after intervening in a fight. He claims two men had guns (one of the men admitted firing at him), so he shot fourteen times at them. In July 1991, Hunt was indicted for the Wilson shooting and dismissed from the department. (Prior to the indictment, he had perfect performance ratings.) He was acquitted of the murder charges, but Wilson's mother received $900,000 from the city in a settlement.54 He challenged his dismissal by arguing that it was a political reaction to publicity over the shooting and that the shooting was justified.55 Anarbitrator agreed, and Hunt was reinstated in 1994 with back pay; as of August 1997, he was working in the 2nd District.56

Officer Christopher Rudy: On November 20, 1993, Rudy was on duty but visiting friends and drinking alcohol at a warehouse.57 There had been a dispute between the warehouse owner and Frank Schmidt, who was accused of stealing items from the warehouse. Rudy, who was friendly with the owner, was at the warehouse when Schmidt telephoned about the dispute. Schmidt said he was afraid of the owner, but Rudy told him to come to the warehouse to talk about the theft. Said Rudy, "I'm a cop. Ain't nothing going to happen."58

Schmidt reportedly told internal affairs investigators that once he arrived, the warehouse gates were locked behind him, he was beaten, and the warehouse owner put gun to his head as Rudy watched and poured beer over Schmidt.59 Then Rudy started beating Schmidt in the face. Schmidt was threatened throughout the ordeal; the warehouse owner allegedly said he would cut his hands off with a knife and threatened to have warehouse workers rape him. Schmidt reported the incident to the police, but Rudy was not questioned for seven months, and he denied everything. While at the warehouse with Schmidt, Rudy had ignored police calls, including one "officer needs assistance." Rudy got a twelve-day suspension for failing to take police action, inflicting physical abuse, providing false statements, and conduct unbecoming a police officer, and was returned to active duty.60

Officer Carl Holmes: On January 5, 1992, Holmes saw a man urinating in an alley. He tackled him and, IAD confirmed, stepped on his groin, kicked him,slammed him into a car, and hit the man on the head.61 Commissioner Neal suspended Holmes for twenty days, but Holmes appealed and got the punishment reduced to five days. According to the Philadelphia police department's personnel office, he has since been promoted to lieutenant.62

Holmes had at least one other complaint against him, in 1990.63 When he was a new recruit with nineteen days on the force, he was at a bar at 1:30 a.m. and got into a fight with another bar patron. The complainant alleged that Holmes (6'3" and 290 lbs.), grabbed him by the throat and slammed his head into a car. The complainant was treated at a hospital and had a small abrasion on the back of his head and on his neck. The complaint was not sustained, in part because the complainant had been drinking, but it was reported that investigators apparently asked no questions about Holmes's drinking the same evening.64

42 Interview, August 20, 1996.

43 In the U.S. District Court, for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, re: 39th Police District, Civil Action Nos. 95-1575, etc..

44 Mark Fazlollah, "Flawed reviews give top ratings to rogues," Philadelphia Inquirer, April 21, 1996; Joseph A. Slobodzian, "2 ex-officers plead guilty to corruption," Philadelphia Inquirer, March 31, 1995.

45 Michael Kramer, "How cops go bad," Time magazine, December 15, 1997; Stephen Braun, "Scandal rocks Philadelphia cops over corruption, planted evidence," Chicago Sun-Times, October 23, 1995. Several other suspects also alleged that Baird beat them. Ibid.

46 Colbert filed a civil lawsuit against the city and settled for $25,000.

47 Kramer, "How cops go bad," Time magazine, December 15, 1997. It was reported that the officer only cooperated because he had retired and thus did not have access to a union representative. McDougall, "Law and Disorder," Philadelphia Weekly.

48 May 23, 1996 deposition.

49 Jeff Gammage and Mark Fazlollah, "Arbitration offers a route back to work," Philadelphia Inquirer, November 21, 1995; U.P.I., "Off-duty officer involved in second fatal shooting," March 25, 1991; and case files of off-duty actions provided to Prof. James Fyfe by IAD, who compiled case studies entitled "Philadelphia police off-duty actions: Complaints and Shootings," May 23, 1994. According to the police counsel with the deputy city solicitor, IAD is responsible for investigating off-duty incidents "in the same manner as any other investigation. A complete investigation is conducted and an analysis and conclusion on the substance of the complaint is made. It is reviewed by supervisors and a final determination is made by the Police Commissioner." Letter to Human Rights Watch from David Domzalski, police counsel, deputy city solicitor, November 6, 1996.

50 According to case files of off-duty actions provided to Prof. James Fyfe by IAD, who compiled case studies entitled "Philadelphia police off-duty actions: Complaints and Shootings," May 23, 1994.

51 Ibid.

52 IAD 90-058.

53 Gammage and Fazlollah, "Arbitration offers a route back to work," Philadelphia Inquirer, November 21, 1995; U.P.I., "Off-duty officer involved in second fatal shooting," March 25, 1991; and case files of off-duty actions provided to Prof. James Fyfe by IAD, who compiled case studies entitled "Philadelphia police off-duty actions: Complaints and Shootings," May 23, 1994.

54 According to press reports, the City Solicitor's office warned in a memo recommending the settlement, that "facts in this case are potentially horrendous" and that Wilson's wounds would "shock and appall" any jury. Gammage and Fazlollah, "Arbitration offers a route back to work," Philadelphia Inquirer, November 21, 1995.

55 Ibid.

56 Telephone inquiry, August 11, 1997.

57 Mark Bowden, "Major offenses by Philadelphia cops often bring minor punishments," Philadelphia Inquirer, November 19, 1995; off-duty case information provided to Professor Fyfe.

58 Bowden, "Major offenses by Philadelphia cops," Philadelphia Inquirer, November 19, 1995.

59 Ibid.

60 Ibid.

61 Bowden, "Major offenses by..." Philadelphia Inquirer and Fyfe files. The man had just had a kidney transplant and needed to urinate frequently.

62 Human Rights Watch telephone inquiry, August 11, 1997.

63 Fyfe files, "Philadelphia police off-duty actions: Complaints and Shootings," May 23, 1994.

64 Ibid.

Posted via email from ElyssaD's Posterous

RW ONLINE:Philadelphia: The Power Structure and the Railroad of Mumia Abu-Jamal

The Power Structure and the
Railroad of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Revolutionary Worker #1064, July 30, 2000

Philadelphia is called the City of Brotherly Love. But like other cities across the country, the power structure, their political agents and their enforcers have no love for the poor and the oppressed. And they deeply hate those like political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal who take a revolutionary stand for the people.

Several current and past figures with high-level positions in the Philadelphia government hold three things in common: They all rose to their positions of power by supporting and directing the thuggery of the Philadelphia police department. They have all taken part in the framing of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and in the war on the MOVE organization*. And they were all products of the Rizzo era.

The Rizzo Years

Frank Rizzo was the nation's "super cop'' in the repression of the Black Liberation Movement of the late '60s and early '70s. He first made a name for himself when, as deputy police commissioner, he "put down'' one of the first Black urban rebellions in 1964. By 1967 Rizzo was the police commissioner and sent cops with clubs swinging into a demonstration of Black high school students demanding courses in Black history. These actions earned him the praise of President Richard Nixon. "As I see it,'' Nixon said, "other cities could use Rizzo's ideas.''

Rizzo's "ideas'' were not exactly new. They have been used everywhere that occupying armies hold down oppressed people. In 1970 Rizzo understood well what was expected of him by the national authorities when he launched raids on the Philadelphia offices of the Black Panther Party. He forced captured Panthers to strip naked and line up against a wall for news photographers. Rizzo had declared "open season'' on Black radicals.

Based on this record, Philadelphia's establishment tapped him for mayor in 1972, the same year that MOVE was founded. Rizzo was now big time--"the cop who would be king,'' as one biographer tagged him. Clustered around Rizzo was a team of prosecutors who shared his views on "crime in the streets,'' which was the 1970s code word for "Black.''

This team consisted of people like Ed Rendell, Ron Castille, and Lynne Abraham. All three were homicide prosecutors in the District Attorney's office. The DA's homicide division worked hand-in-glove with the homicide division of the Philadelphia police department. The police homicide division was notorious for the mistreatment, even torture, of suspects, some of whom mysteriously died in custody. Homicide prosecutors like Rendell, Castille, and Abraham worked with this unit on a daily basis and were skilled at looking the other way when police misconduct occurred--as it did almost daily.

The Philadelphia police department is the only major police department in the United States to be investigated for corruption by the U.S. Justice Department (although the records of this investigation remain sealed). But the Philadelphia DA's office regularly blew off exposures of bribe taking, perjury, and brutality as "unproven charges,'' as with the 39th Precinct scandal several years ago in which dozens of people were sent to prison on the basis of fake evidence and false testimony by police.

Ed Rendell

The key member of the Killer Elite is Ed Rendell, who became the District Attorney in 1977. In this capacity Rendell reviewed and approved all major prosecutions, while protecting Philly's cops. For Rendell, more jails were the solution to all social problems. He once complained that the juvenile detention facilities "are only 80 percent full when they should be 160 percent full.''

In 1977 Mayor Rizzo set up a blockade of the MOVE house in Powelton Village to starve out its residents. This quickly became an international embarrassment to the United States. Under pressure from the federal government, it was DA Ed Rendell who entered into an agreement to end the 1978 police starvation blockade of MOVE, by settling all the trumped-up charges brought against MOVE. But Rendell then reneged on the agreement, and the courts soon issued arrest warrants for virtually every MOVE member.

On August 8, 1978 the police launched an all-out assault on the Powelton Village MOVE house. Police opened fire on the house, and MOVE members barricaded in the basement were flooded out with fire hoses. Then, as the TV cameras rolled, cops stomped and kicked Delbert Africa as he lay on the ground. After this brutal attack, Rendell appeared at a "victory'' press conference with Mayor Rizzo. At this press conference, a young Black journalist named Mumia Abu-Jamal dared to challenge Rizzo and the Philadelphia police, Rizzo responded with a threat: "They believe what you write, and what you say, and it's got to stop. And one day, and I hope it's in my career, that you're going to have to be held responsible and accountable for what you do." Rendell was standing right next to Rizzo at that moment.

It was Rendell's office who then brought the prosecution of the survivors of the attack. The MOVE 9, as they became known, were charged in the death of a police officer shot (most likely by other cops) during the wild police firing on the MOVE house. The nine were subsequently sentenced to 30 to 100 years in prison each, despite the fact that the trial judge admitted in public that he had no idea who fired the shot that killed the cop.

It was this same Ed Rendell who approved and oversaw the prosecution of Mumia Abu-Jamal. On December 9, 1981, Mumia Abu-Jamal was driving his cab on a downtown Philadelphia street. He saw a cop beating his brother with a metal flashlight and he rushed to the scene. There was a confrontation, and when the smoke cleared Mumia was lying in a pool of blood, shot in the chest. Nearby, Philadelphia cop Daniel Faulkner lay dying from bullet wounds. Mumia was charged for the murder of Faulkner--and has not spent a day free since.

Rendell knew well of Mumia's radio journalism, his exposures of police brutality, his coverage of the MOVE 9 trial, and his background in the Black Panther Party. He also knew the nature of the police department and was fully aware of the absurdity of key aspects of the case, such as the claim, months after the fact, that Mumia had "confessed.'' Yet he pushed ahead with the case. Rendell has publicly upheld his role in seeking the death penalty for Mumia. Speaking to a police rally in 1995, he said, "The actions in this case dictated the death penalty.''

Ed Rendell was mayor of Philadelphia from 1992 to January 2000. Today he is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee--one of the top posts in the Democratic Party in this election year.

Ron Castille

Another member of the Killer Elite is Ron Castille. In 1985 when Rendell quit his job as District Attorney to run unsuccessfully for governor, he was replaced as DA by Castille. From his earliest days in the DA's office, Castille had developed a reputation as a "cowboy'' and on several occasions pulled his gun on people in the course of arguments.

It was Castille who produced the official investigation and whitewash of the horrific 1985 bombing of the MOVE house in which six adults and five children were killed and 60 homes burned down. Castille quickly impaneled a grand jury, then withheld from them a key and damning report by an independent team of forensic experts. Not a single police or fire official was indicted. (A jury found the city guilty in a subsequent federal civil suit.) In fact, the only person prosecuted by Castille out of the whole affair was Ramona Africa, the sole adult survivor of the bombing.

Today, Castille sits on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Despite his obvious bias and personal interest in Mumia's case, Castille refused to step down from the court's ruling on Mumia's appeal. In October 1998, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously turned down Mumia's appeal.

Castille also has strong ties with the Fraternal Order of Police, which has led the public campaign for Mumia's execution. In 1986 FOP Lodge No. 6 named Castille its "Man of the Year.'' In 1989 the FOP provided support for Castille's re-election as DA. In 1993 the FOP endorsed Castille in his campaign for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Finally, a major aspect of Mumia's legal battle for a new trial is the issue of prosecutorial misconduct, that is, the suppression and fabrication of evidence by the same District Attorney's office that Castille used to head. Can anyone believe that Castille was "impartial" when he and his fellow Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices ruled on Mumia's appeal?

Lynne Abraham

The third and most infamous member of the Killer Elite is Lynne Abraham, the current District Attorney. Abraham is today internationally known as "the queen of death'' for her outspoken advocacy of the death penalty, and for the fact that her office routinely demands the death penalty in every possible case. Working her way up as a homicide prosecutor in the DA's office, she reveled in wearing a gun, eating doughnuts, and shmoozing with cops.

In 1972 she was tapped by Rizzo to head the city's Redevelopment Authority. Introducing her to the press, Rizzo described Abraham as "one tough cookie.'' In 1975 she was elected a judge, and in 1983 she joined Judge Albert Sabo as one of the select group of judges in the Court of Common Pleas who hear only homicide cases. It was like a dream come true for her--now she could actually pronounce death sentences. (Sabo came to be known as the "hanging judge" because he presided over so many death sentence trials--including Mumia's.) But then in 1991, Ron Castille stepped down as DA to launch an unsuccessful race against Rendell for Mayor. In May of 1991 Abraham was appointed DA in his place.

As DA, Abraham has led the nation in restoring the death penalty that was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972, then allowed back under new restrictions in 1976. Over half of the death-row inmates in Pennsylvania today come from one city--Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love--and 80 percent of these are Black. This is the work of Rendell, Castille, and Abraham.

In fact, 85 percent of those sent to prison from Philadelphia are Black. Asked if she thinks that Black people actually commit 85 percent of the crimes in Philadelphia, Abraham said, "Yes, I really do.'' Yet what the statistics actually show is that Philadelphia is 40 percent Black, while 64 percent of those arrested are Black and 85 percent of those sent to prison are Black, which strongly suggests a prosecutorial bias against Blacks.

At the same time, Abraham's office has for years turned a blind eye to both police corruption and fraudulent prosecutions. The result is that in the 39th Precinct scandal, hundreds of cases were overturned and dozens of people released from prison because of police frame-ups and faked evidence introduced by police and prosecutors. Abraham has presided over a "police culture'' in which it is assumed that the cops know who the "bad guys'' are, so if they cook the evidence a little to get a conviction, then that is a public service.

As one might expect, Abraham's career has been closely connected with the war on MOVE and the framing of Mumia. It was Judge Abraham who signed arrest warrants for MOVE members in both 1977 and 1985, setting the stage for both police assaults on the MOVE houses. Then a few days after he was shot by Officer Faulkner, Mumia Abu-Jamal was arraigned in his hospital room on murder charges. The judge who made the trip to the hospital to get the railroad rolling was none other than Judge Lynne Abraham.

If Rizzo's spirit lives on among Philadelphia's elite, the spirit of the Black Panthers and the people's movements of the '60s lives on among the people. In their campaign to railroad Mumia Abu-Jamal into the death chamber, Philly's Killer Elite have brought into being an international movement that unites people of all nationalities and backgrounds behind a common demand for justice. FREE MUMIA!

This article was based largely on an article by C. Clark Kissinger, contributing writer to the

RW, titled "Philly's Killer Elite."

*MOVE is an organization of mainly Black radical utopians. MOVE members refuse to respect the U.S. and its prevailing values, openly defy official power, and speak out against this system, which they consider utterly corrupt and destructive of life on this planet.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497
(The RW Online does not currently communicate via email.)

Posted via email from ElyssaD's Posterous

Partners in Crime: The U.S. Secret State and Mexico’s “War on Drugs”… | Project World Awareness

Partners in Crime: The U.S. Secret State and Mexico’s “War on Drugs”…

Posted on September 19, 2010 by admin

For decades, investigative journalists, researchers and analysts have noted the symbiotic relationships forged amongst international drug syndicates, neofascists and U.S. intelligence agencies, documenting the long and bloody history of U.S. complicity in the global drugs trade.

While the United States has pumped billions of dollars into failed drug eradication schemes in target countries through ill-conceived programs such as Plan Colombia and the Mérida Initiative, in the bizarro world of the “War on Drugs,” corporate interests and geopolitics always trump law enforcement efforts to fight organized crime, particularly when the criminals are partners in crimes perpetrated by the secret state.

Since 2006, when Mexican President Felipe Calderón turned the Army loose, allegedly to “dismantle” the drug cartels slowly transforming Mexico into a killing field some 28,000 people, primarily along Mexico’s northern border with the U.S., have lost their lives. Countless others have been wounded, forced to flee or simply “disappeared.”

Writing in The Guardian journalist Simon Jenkins tells us that “cocaine supplies routed through Mexico have made that country the drugs equivalent of a Gulf oil state.”

“Rather than try to stem its own voracious appetite for drugs,” Jenkins writes, “rich America shifts guilt on to poor supplier countries. Never was the law of economics–demand always evokes supply–so traduced as in Washington’s drugs policy. America spends $40bn a year on narcotics policy, imprisoning a staggering 1.5m of its citizens under it.”
Judging the results, one might even think the drug war solely exists as the principle means through which wealthy elites organize crime.

Scenes from the Atrocity Exhibition

• December 13, 2009: The Observer reported that “drugs money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the global crisis.” Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he saw evidence that “the proceeds of organised crime were ‘the only liquid investment capital’ available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.” The Observer informed us that this “will raise questions about crime’s influence on the economic system at times of crisis.” Costa told the British newspaper that “in many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital. In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system’s main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor.” Although the UN’s drug czar declined to identify the countries or banks that benefited from narcotics investments, he said that “inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities… There were signs that some banks were rescued that way.”

• February 26, 2010: Responding to charges by left-wing critics and academics, Mexican president Felipe Calderón was forced to counter evidence that his government’s “offensive” against narcotraffickers has left the “largest and most powerful of the cartels relatively unscathed,” the Los Angeles Times disclosed. Critics accused the government of favoritism towards the Sinaloa cartel, claiming it “has been allowed to escape most of the government’s firepower and carry on with its illegal business as usual.” During a news conference, Calderón said such charges were “absolutely false.” The president said the suggestion was “painful,” and went on to say: “I can assure you that this government has attacked without discrimination all criminal groups in Mexico … without taking into consideration whether it’s the cartel of so-and-so or what’s-his-name. We’ve fought them all.” Edgardo Buscaglia, an academic expert on organized crime challenged the president and said that arrest figures “skew heavily” toward the other cartels. “By his calculation,” the Times reported, “of more than 53,000 people arrested in drug-trafficking cases in the three years since Calderón took office, fewer than 1,000 worked for the Sinaloa organization.” Commanded by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the Sinaloa cartel crime boss placed 937 on Forbes 2010 survey of the world’s billionaires with an estimated net worth of $1 billion. A similar modus operandi is standard practice where foreign policy and corporate concerns of America’s wealthiest clients overseas override efforts by law enforcement to choke-off the flow of narcotics. In Colombia, secret state agencies such as the CIA have long-favored drug organizations that have served as intelligence assets or death squads. Examples abound. Consider the “untouchable” status enjoyed by the Rodríguez Orejuela brothers’ Cali cartel. During the 1980s, at the height of America’s Central American interventions, cocaine shipped into the United States as part of the U.S. government’s “guns-for-drugs” arrangement with Nicaraguan Contra rebels, was principally supplied by Cali traffickers. When Medellín drug lord Pablo Escobar’s group was brought down, the CIA, DEA and the Pentagon’s Delta Force relied on operatives funded by the rival Cali faction and Los Pepes, a vigilante group founded by drug lord Carlos Castaño and his brothers Fidel and Vicente. Los Pepes had operational links to the Colombian National Police, especially the Search Bloc (Bloque de Búsqueda) hunting Escobar, and acted on intelligence provided by the CIA/DEA/Delta Force to execute their missions. After Escobar’s death, the Castaño brothers launched the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a notorious right-wing death squad. The AUC in coordination with the Colombian Army, carried out multiple attacks and massacred thousands of leftists, trade union organizers and peasant activists. In 2001 under pressure from human rights groups, the U.S. State Department designated the AUC a “Foreign Terrorist Organization.” This didn’t however, prevent U.S. corporations such as Chiquita Brands International, Occidental Petroleum, Coca-Cola or the Drummond Company from allegedly hiring out AUC paramilitaries to murder trade union and peasant activists. In 2007, Chiquita pled guilty in federal district court and paid a $25 million fine under provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1991 for funding the AUC. Dole Food Company now faces similar charges. In 2002, the Justice Department unsealed an indictment against Carlos Castaño and accused him of trafficking some 17 tons of cocaine into the United States.

• March 9, 2010: The National Security Archive published a series of documents linking the U.S. secret state to Mexico’s dirty warriors and drug cartel operatives under official protection by a CIA-allied intelligence agency. Following reporting by Peter Dale Scott that “both the FBI and CIA intervened in 1981 to block the indictment (on stolen car charges) of the drug-trafficking Mexican intelligence czar Miguel Nazar Haro, claiming that Nazar was ‘an essential repeat essential contact for CIA station in Mexico City,’ on matters of ‘terrorism, intelligence, and counterintelligence’,” the National Security Archive disclosed that Nazar Haro’s corrupt Dirección Federal de Seguridad (DFS) was responsible for the disappearance, torture and murder of left-wing activists during the 1970s and ’80s. The Archive revealed that “there is a deep connection between the former Mexican intelligence service and the country’s drug mafias. As DFS agents took command of counterinsurgency raids in the 1970s, they often stumbled upon narcotics safe houses and quickly took on the job of protecting Mexico’s drug cartels.” Researchers Kate Doyle and Jesse Franzblau told us although “the DFS was disbanded in 1985 following revelations that it was behind the murder of DEA agent Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena, and Mexican journalist Manuel Buendia,” of the 1,500 agents who suddenly found themselves unemployed, many “found their training in covert activities and brutal counterinsurgency operations easily adaptable to the needs of the criminal underworld.” In 2006, the National Security Archive and investigative journalist Jefferson Morley disclosed that declassified U.S. documents “reveal CIA recruitment of agents within the upper echelons of the Mexican government between 1956 and 1969. The informants used in this secret program included President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz and future President Luis Echeverría.” As we now know, when he served as Interior Secretary in the Díaz government, Echeverría oversaw the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre of student activists just days before the Summer Olympics were staged in Mexico City. “The documents,” Morley wrote, “detail the relationships cultivated between senior CIA officers, such as chief of station Winston Scott, and Mexican government officials through a secret spy network code-named ‘LITEMPO.’ Operating out of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, Scott used the LITEMPO project to provide ‘an unofficial channel for the exchange of selected sensitive political information which each government wanted the other to receive but not through public protocol exchanges’.” These, and other disclosures reveal that “one of the most crime-ridden CIA assets we know of is the Mexican DFS, which the US helped to create,” Peter Dale Scott wrote back in 2000. “From its foundation in the 1940s, the DFS, like other similar kryptocracies in Latin America, was deeply involved with international drug-traffickers. By the 1980s possession of a DFS card was recognized by DEA agents as a ‘license to traffic;’ DFS agents rode security for drug truck convoys, and used their police radios to check of signs of American police surveillance.” Evidence suggests that similar protection and management of the global drug trade persists today.

• March 16, 2010: Wachovia Bank, a subsidiary of banking giant Wells Fargo & Co., signed a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the federal government. Wells admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report some $378.4 billion in suspected money laundering transactions by narcotics traffickers between 2004-2008, “a sum equal to one-third of Mexico’s current gross domestic product,” Bloomberg Markets magazine revealed. Cash laundered by drug mafias were used to purchase a fleet of planes that subsequently shipped some 22 tons of cocaine into the United States. Wells paid the government $160 million to resolve the case. American Express Bank and Western Union also agreed recently to huge settlements with the government for similar offenses.

• May 19, 2010: Retired Mexican Army General Mario Arturo Acosta Chaparro was shot and wounded in Mexico City during an alleged robbery attempt. El Universal reports that police claimed that a thief wanted to “steal the general’s watch” and shot him several times in the chest. In 2007, after a six-year imprisonment on charges of providing protection to late drug trafficking kingpin Amado Carrillo Fuentes, chief of the Juárez cartel and self-described “Lord of the Heavens,” Acosta Chaparro was released from custody after his conviction was overturned on appeal. According to documents published by global whistleblowers WikiLeaks in 2009, the Swiss Bank Julius Baer’s Cayman Islands unit, allegedly hid “several million dollars” of funds controlled by Acosta Chaparro and his wife, Silvia through a firm known as Symac Investments. WikiLeaks wondered whether Mexican authorities would “want to know whether the several millions of USD had anything to do with the allegations that Mr Chaparro, a former police chief from the Mexican state of Guerrero, stopped chasing his local drug dealers and joined them in business.” According to reports cited by WikiLeaks, Acosta Chaparro was “already the subject of multiple allegations not only that he was a narcotrafficker but also that he had played a leading role in the dirty war of police and army against rural guerillas on his patch between 1975 and 1981. He was accused of organising the seizure, torture and murder of peasants who were suspected of helping the rebels and, with particular persistence of overseeing ‘flights of death’ in which well-tortured detainees were taken up in helicopters and pushed out over the ocean while still alive.” Despite these serious charges,WikiLeaks informs us that “no action was taken at all [and] Chaparro’s funds might still be managed by the former representative of Julius Baer, Mexico Curtis Lowell Jun in Zurich.”

• June 7, 2010: Guerrero State Attorney General Albertico Guinto announced that 55 bodies were found deep in an abandoned silver mine outside Taxco, The Christian Science Monitor reported. In various states of decomposition, the victims showed signs of torture before being killed. “It was like a quicksand, but filled with bodies,” Luis Rivera, the chief criminologist investigating the scene told The Washington Post. The recovery of the remains took nearly a week, “a task made more difficult” by the fact that some cadavers were mummified, others were dismembered by the fall and at least four of the victims had been decapitated. “There are headless bodies, but some of the heads don’t match the bodies,” Rivera said. Based on wound analysis of the corpses, investigators theorized that “many of the victims were alive when they were thrown down the mine shaft.”

• June 12, 2010: The Narco News Bulletin reports “a special operations task force under the command of the Pentagon is currently in place south of the border providing advice and training to the Mexican Army in gathering intelligence, infiltrating and, as needed, taking direct action against narco-trafficking organizations.” A “former U.S. government official who has experience dealing with covert operations,” told journalist Bill Conroy that “black operations have been going on forever. The recent [mainstream] media reports about those operations under the Obama administration make it sound like it’s a big scoop, but it’s nothing new for those who understand how things really work.” Perhaps we should recall how “things” have worked in the recent past. Back in 2003, the Brownsville Heral dreported that Los Zetas, formerly the enforcement arm of the Gulf cartel, “feature 31 ex-soldiers once part of an elite division of the Mexican army, the Special Air Mobile Force Group. At least one-third of this battalion’s deserters was trained at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga., according to documents from the Mexican secretary of defense.” According to the U.S. Defense Department, some 513 Mexican Special Forces soldiers received training at the School of the Americas, and about 120 “graduates” joined the Special Air Mobile Force. Luis Astorga, a drug trafficking expert at the National Autonomous University in Mexico City told the Herald: “There is a higher level of danger with the type of knowledge that these people have, their arms capacity, their knowledge of techniques and specialization in (drug) traffic operations. Traffickers traditionally don’t have that; they pay other people for those services.” Is history repeating itself under the Mérida Initiative? A former DEA official told Narco News in 2005 that “A lot of the Zetas came from former Mexican police offices or the military … So they come from a diverse background. Some of them have prior training from the DEA, FBI and the U.S. military, as well as other agencies.”

• June 28, 2010: Rodolfo Torre Cantu, the leading candidate for governor in the state of Tamaulipas was gunned down in one of the highest profile assassinations since a presidential candidate was murdered under suspicious circumstances in 1994. Four others, including local lawmaker Enrique Blackmore, were also killed when their campaign van was sprayed with machine gun fire by unknown assailants. Cantu had vowed to crack down on drug gangs if elected.

• July 15, 2010: A powerful car bomb explodes on a crowded street near a federal police headquarters in Ciudad Juárez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. Four are killed, including a police officer and doctor lured to the scene.

• July 15, 2010: Investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker revealed that the pilot “of the American-registered DC-9 (N900SA) from St. Petersburg, FL caught carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine in Mexico’s Yucatan several years ago,” Carmelo Vasquez Guerra, “had been released from prison less than two years after being arrested.” Readers will recall that the DC-9 and another American-registered plane, a Gulfstream II business jet (N987SA) that spilled “4 tons of cocaine across a muddy field,” Hopsicker reported, were used in CIA “rendition” (torture) flights and had been purchased by Mexican drug gangs with funds laundered through Wachovia Bank. “The shocking news was delivered via an international headline stating that a pilot named Carmelo Vasquez Guerra had been arrested in the West African nation of Guinea Bissau on a twin-engine Gulfstream II carrying… what else?550 kilos–a half-ton–of cocaine.” According to Hopsicker, the drug pilot was arrested–and released–from three countries “under mysterious and unexplained circumstances.” Seeking answers to the pilot’s series of seemingly miraculous escapes, Hopsicker drolly observed: “Maybe there is an innocent explanation for everything. Maybe drugs just show up, unbidden, like unwanted guests. And maybe Carmelo Vasquez Guerra didn’t escape each time he got busted. Maybe he just ‘released himself on his own recognizance’.”

• July 18, 2010: In the wake of the massacre of 17 people attending a birthday party in the northern city of Torreon, The Christian Science Monitor revealed that inmates from a prison in the nearby city of Gomez Palacio were the authors of the crime. “According to witnesses, the inmates were allowed to leave with authorization of the prison director … to carry out instructions for revenge attacks using official vehicles and using guards’ weapons for executions,” said Ricardo Najera, a spokesman from the attorney general’s office. After the atrocity, inmates drove back to their cells.

• July 20, 2010: Following the Juárez car bomb blast that killed four, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Arturo Sarukhan, downplayed it’s significance and claimed, though disturbing, violence “has not yet reached the level of terrorism,” The Washington Post reported. “Terrorism,” the U.S. ambassador said, “refers to the acts by groups with political objectives that seek to control the government.” But what if those with “political objectives” and limitless funds from the illicit trade already control the state’s security apparatus?

• July 25, 2010: Of the more than 28,000 people killed since December 2006 when President Felipe Calderón “hurled the Mexican Army into the anti-cartel battle,” nearly 6,300 (a quarter of the total) were murdered in Ciudad Juárez, The Nation reports. Under a three year deal, the United States has bankrolled the Army offensive with some $1.4 billion in funds under the Mérida Initiative. Journalists Charles Bowden and Molly Molloy wrote in response to Ambassador Sarukhan’s statement: “We are supposed to believe in their evidence that 90 percent of the dead are criminals, but that they have no evidence at all of narco-terrorism?” Bowden and Molloy aver, “This, despite numerous incidents of grenades and other explosives being used in recent attacks in the states of Michoacan, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Sonora and many other places in Mexico. And that ‘armed commandos’ dressed like soldiers and wielding high-powered machine guns are witnessed at the scenes of hundreds of massacres documented since 2008.” According to expert Diego Valle, the steep rise in homicide rates correlate directly to increased military operations against some cartels. In his recent study,Statistical Analysis and Visualisation of the Drug War in Mexico, Valle writes that “military operations in Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Veracruz and Durango have coincided with increases in homicides and attempts by the Sinaloa cartel to take over drug trafficking routes from rival cartels. After the army took control of Ciudad Juárez it became the most violent city in the world.”

• July 27, 2010: Building on alliances forged during the Cold War amongst right-wing political gangs and drug traffickers, cartel operations in Central America have soared, The Washington Post informs us. Since 2006, drug networks in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras “are burrowing deeper into a region with the highest murder rates in the world.” According to United Nations data, cocaine seizures in Central America “nearly quadrupled” between 2004 and 2007. “Over the past two years,” the Post reports, “two national police chiefs and the former president have been arrested on charges related to drug trafficking or corruption. Two former interior ministers are fugitives.” In Honduras, where a U.S.-sponsored coup toppled a democratically elected president in 2009, Mexican cartels have established “command-and-control” centers to coordinate cocaine shipments by sea and air to North America and Europe. In El Salvador, that country’s leftist president has said that the violent street gang, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), have forged a working relationship with drug cartels that could eventually help the group mature into “an international syndicate.”

• August 22, 2010: Journalist Bill Conroy reports in The Narco News Bulletin that despite surging violence in Ciudad Juárez, the murder-plagued city “where some 10,000 small businesses have closed their doors since 2008 due, in large part, to a wave of burglaries, kidnappings, extortion and murders that has washed over the city during the past two and a half years,” why is the violence not affecting the entire city? Conroy writes “there is often an exception to most rules, and in the case of Juárez, the rule of violence does not extend to its industrial zones, which are home to some 360 maquiladora factories that employ more than 190,000 people.” According to a report obtained by Narco News from the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation, or REDCO, “there was only one homicide carried out in the maquila industrial zones” since 2008. “That’s right,” Conroy avers, “just one murder in this huge swath of Juárez that is dotted with maquila plants operated by huge corporations such as General Motors, Delphi, Motorola, Visteon, TECMA and Honeywell. Maquiladoras, also known as twin plants, are Mexico-based factories owned and/or operated by foreign companies that benefit from the cheap labor and favorable tax treatment.” REDCO officials refused to comment to Narco News. However, Conroy writes, TECMA executive vice president Toby Spoon told ABC’s El Paso affiliate KVIA that “If they [the narco-trafficking organizations] got the maquila industry, or American companies or foreign companies, if they became targets of this, it would just take it to a whole different level, and nobody wants that.” Isn’t that an interesting statement! “So it would appear, based on that comment,” Conroy writes, “that the narco-trafficking organizations, the Mexican government and the maquila factory owners have some sort of unspoken alliance of convenience that assures protection for the maquila factories and their professional employees.” Indeed, Narco News discovered that “at last three security zones have been set up in Juárez that are guarded by Mexican soldiers who assure safe passage for Maquila executives commuting from El Paso to the Juárez factory sites. In addition, the maquila industrial zones themselves, according to media reports, are under the close watch of Mexican state police as well as private security guards employed by the maquilas.” This is the same Army and federal police force that is seemingly “powerless” to halt the slaughter of Juárez citizens by ubiquitous, yet invisible, drug gangs which have transformed that city, and northern Mexico, into a free-fire zone. Curious indeed!

• August 25, 2010: A wounded Ecuadorean migrant stumbled to a Mexican Marine checkpoint in the northern state of Tamaulipas and leads officials to a blood-splashed room. Inside, authorities discover the bodies of 58 men and 14 women, allegedly murdered by Los Zetas, or another cartel seeking to discredit their rivals. “Years ago,IPS reported, “Los Zetas found a gold mine: kidnapping undocumented migrants.” The UN estimates that some half million undocumented migrants from Central and South America “cross Mexico from south to north every year in their attempt to reach the United States.” And more than 10,000 were kidnapped between September 2009 and February 2010 according to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission. According to multiple press reports, the migrants were killed after they refused to serve as forced labor for Los Zetas.

• August 26, 2010: A veteran officer with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service (CBP), a satrapy within the sprawling Department of Homeland Security, Martha Alicia Garnica, 43, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for drug trafficking, human smuggling and bribery. “Three other defendants,” the Center for Investigative Reportingdisclosed, received prison sentences, ranging from two years to a little more than five years. A fourth defendant was murdered in February in Juárez.”

• August 27, 2010: “Federal prosecutors,” The Nation revealed, “have used top leaders of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), known as the most violent gang in the US and Central America, as secret informants over a decade of murders, drug-trafficking and car-jackings across a dozen US states and several Central American countries.” Former California state senator Tom Hayden told us that “the informants are identified as Nelson Comandari, described by law enforcement as ‘the CEO of Mara Salvatrucha,’ and his self described ‘right hand man,’ Jorge Pineda, nicknamed ‘Dopey’ because of his drug-dealing background.” According to The Nation, Comandari’s grandfather “was Col. Agustin Martinez Varela, a powerful right-wing Salvadoran who served as an interior minister during El Salvador’s civil wars. Comandari’s uncle, Franklin Varela, was a central informant in the Reagan administration’s scandalous investigation into the activist Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador [CISPES].” In his 1998 written testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, retired DEA Special Agent Celerino Castillo III told Congress that “while our government shouted ‘Just Say No !’, entire Central and South American nations fell into what are now known as, ‘Cocaine democracies’.” Castillo testified: “On Jan. 18, 1985, [retired CIA officer Felix] Rodriguez allegedly met with money-launderer Ramon Milan-Rodriguez, who had moved $1.5 billion for the Medellin cartel. Milan testified before a Senate Investigation on the Contras’ drug smuggling, that before this 1985 meeting, he had granted Felix Rodriguez’s request and given $10 million from the cocaine for the Contras.” Contra drug operations were coordinated by the CIA out of El Salvador’s Ilopango airport and protected from prying eyes, and U.S. law enforcement investigators, by troops drawn from by Col. Varela’s interior ministry. According to the National Security Archive’s Oliver North File, “Mr. North’s diary entries, from the reporter’s notebooks he kept in those years, noted multiple reports of drug smuggling among the contras. A Washington Post investigation published on 22 October 1994 found no evidence he had relayed these reports to the DEA or other law enforcement authorities.”

• August 28, 2010: The bullet-ridden body of Roberto Suarez Vasquez, the lead investigator probing the murder of 72 Central- and South American migrants was found on a highway not far from where the massacre took place.

• August 31, 2010: The entire 2,000 mile U.S.-Mexico border will be monitored by Predator drones. Part of a $600 million package passed by Congress earlier this year, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the border was now “safer than ever.”

• August 31, 2010: Some 3,200 Mexican federal police, “nearly a tenth of the force,” have been fired this year “under new rules designed to weed out crooked cops and modernize law enforcement,” the Los Angeles Times reports. Amongst the 465 cops arrested in early August, federal authorities took four commanders into custody after 250 subordinates in violence-plagued Ciudad Juárez publicly accused them of corruption.

• September 6, 2010: The Los Angeles Times reports that “drug traffickers who siphon off natural gas, gasoline and even crude, rob the Mexican treasury of hundreds of millions of dollars annually.” The newspaper disclosed that “the cartels have taken sabotage to a new level: They’ve hobbled key operations in parts of the Burgos Basin, home to Mexico’s biggest natural gas fields.” Times’ journalist Tracy Wilkinson writes that “the world’s seventh-largest oil producer has become another casualty of the drug war.” A series of kidnappings and murders in the gas-rich region has curtailed production. Pemex officials refused to comment and have sought to “repress information on the kidnappings.” Despite a massive outcry by Mexico’s citizens against moves by the Calderón administration to privatize Pemex, which generates some $77 billion in annual revenue, Chevron’s Latin American operations chief Ali Moshiri told the Houston Chronicle that the company wants to make Mexico “a big part of our portfolio.” In this light, violence against Pemex workers and crippled production is nothing more than an odd coincidence, right?

• September 8, 2010: Speaking at the elite Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton claimed that Mexico’s drug cartels “increasingly resemble an insurgency with the power to challenge the government’s control of wide swaths of its own soil,” the Los Angeles Times reported. Comparing Mexico to Colombia, Clinton’s comments reflect past U.S. claims that Colombia’s well-entrenched drug mafias were part of a leftist “narcoguerrilla” strategy to topple the government. This is a mendacious comparison given rich evidence that for decades Colombia’s leading mafia groups are allied with extreme right-wing forces in that country’s political establishment. Declassified U.S. documents revealed that former President Álvaro Uribe, enjoyed close ties to drug-linked paramilitary organizations. A darling of the Pentagon and the American secret state, according to multiple press reports and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archive, when Uribe was mayor of Medellín, the epicenter of Pablo Escobar’s narcoempire, the now-dead mafia boss’s former lover Virginia Vallejo, told the Spanish paper El País: “Pablo used to say, that if it weren’t for that blessed little boy [Uribe], we would have to swim to Miami to get drugs to the gringos.” According to Vallejo, when Uribe was the director of Colombia’s Civil Aviation authority, he granted dozens of licenses for runways and hundreds of permits for planes and helicopters, on which the drug trade’s infrastructure was built. The 1991 document by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency noted that Uribe was a “close personal friend of Pablo Escobar” who was “dedicated to collaboration with the Medellín [drug] cartel at high government levels.”

• September 9, 2010: 25 people, including women and teenagers ranging in age from 15 to 60, were murdered in Ciudad Juárez by Juárez cartel gunmen, the El Paso Times reports. The operation was allegedly mounted against their rivals in the Sinaloa drugs organization, apparently in retaliation for a kidnapping. The well-coordinated attacks took place in different parts of the city. Despite thousands of Mexican Army troops and federal police stationed in the city, the attacks took place with impunity. Since 2008, more than 6,400 Juárez citizens have been killed. While President Calderón claims that 90 percent of victims are connected to drug organizations, evidence suggests that like the 72 migrant workers slaughtered in Tamaulipas in August, most of the victims had no ties to the murderous trade.

• September 10, 2010: Seeking to calm a “diplomatic furor” over recent comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Mexico “resembled Colombia” during the heyday of cartel power, President Obama disputed Clinton’s assertion, the Los Angeles Times reported. In what could generously be described as a replay of President Ronald Reagan’s repeated denials that right-wing Nicaraguan Contra “rebels” were deeply mired in cocaine trafficking, Obama said that “Mexico is a great democracy, vibrant, with a growing economy,” the president told the Spanish-language La Opinion newspaper. “And as a result, what is happening there can’t be compared with what happened in Colombia 20 years ago.” Human rights abuses are widespread. According to Amnesty International, political dissidents, environmentalists, trade union activists and indigenous human rights defenders are routinely disappeared, tortured or murdered with impunity.

• September 12, 2010: An in-depth Washington Post profile of convicted U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer Martha Garnica, sentenced in August for drug smuggling and human trafficking along the border, revealed that “the number of CBP corruption investigations opened by the inspector general climbed from 245 in 2006 to more than 770 this year.” The Post reports that “corruption cases at its sister agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, rose from 66 to more than 220 over the same period.” The vast majority of cases involve “illegal trafficking of drugs, guns, weapons and cash across the Southwest border.” Although Garnica received a 20-year sentence for her crimes, not a single criminal indictment has been issued by the U.S. Justice Department for crimes committed by top corporate officers of Wells Fargo-owned Wachovia Bank, who admitted earlier this year to laundering hundreds of billions of dollars for Mexico’s ultra-violent drug mafias. Aside from Bloomberg Markets magazine’s comprehensive investigation, neither the Post, nor other U.S. “newspaper of record” reported on the bank’s “deferred prosecution agreement” with the federal government.

• September 15, 2010: Writing in The Nation, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill revealed that the private security firm Blackwater “have provided intelligence, training and security services to US and foreign governments as well as several multinational corporations.” According to Scahill, “former CIA paramilitary officer Enrique ‘Ric’ Prado, set up a global network of foreign operatives, offering their ‘deniability’ as a ‘big plus’ for potential Blackwater customers.” While Blackwater’s mercenary network was originally created to service CIA black ops, Prado wrote an email to a Total Intelligence executive (a Blackwater cut-out) with the subject line, “Possible Opportunity in DEA-Read and Delete,” a pitch to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The Nation reports “that executive was an eighteen-year DEA veteran with extensive government connections.” Prado explained that Blackwater “has developed ‘a rapidly growing, worldwide network of folks that can do everything from surveillance to ground truth to disruption operations.’ He added, ‘These are all foreign nationals (except for a few cases where US persons are the conduit but no longer ‘play’ on the street), so deniability is built in and should be a big plus’.” According to Scahill, the executive wrote back and suggested that “one of the best places to start may be the Special Operations Division, (SOD).” Scahill writes that “the SOD is a secretive joint command within the U.S. Justice Department, run by the DEA” and serves “as the command-and-control center for some of the most sensitive counternarcotics and law enforcement operations conducted by federal forces.” As we have seen with other clandestine operations run amok in the drug war, “deniable” assets, especially when they are “foreign nationals” with no direct ties to the U.S. government, have a funny habit of lending their well-compensated “expertise” to drug traffickers. One is reminded of the case of Israeli mercenary Yair Klein, a former IDF lieutenant colonel. Klein’s private security firm, Spearhead Ltd., produced training videos and tutored drug lord Carlos Castaño’s AUC in the fine art of murder. In 2001, Klein was convicted by a Colombian court for his firm’s work with right-wing death squads and the enforcement arms of several drug trafficking organizations. According to Democracy Now!, Klein was “accused of training Mafia assassins” and “suspected of involvement in the explosion of a Colombian airliner in November 1989.” Given Blackwater’s sensitivity to human rights (just ask Baghdad residents!) one can be certain that the mercenary firm’s interest in the drug war will assure Mexico’s citizens that help is on the way!

The Grim Road Ahead

It should be clear: the “War on Drugs” like the “War on Terror” is a colossal, multibillion dollar fraud perpetrated on the American people.

North Americans consume drugs and line the pockets of state-connected killers; Latin Americans do the dying. Low-level dealers and the poor who buy their illicit products are rewarded with wrecked lives, devastated communities and one-way tickets to prison.

U.S. banking and financial elites reap whirlwind profits and are handed virtual get-out-of-jail-free cards by federal prosecutors and courts that levy fines regarded as little more than chump change by the banks. The CIA and their far-flung network of private contractors siphon-off illegal proceeds from the grim trade laundered through U.S. and European financial institutions.

The U.S. secret state, seeking geopolitical advantage over their imperialist rivals deploy drug mafias and right-wing terrorists as plausibly deniable intelligence assets, just as they have for decades.

Congressional banking and intelligence probes are killed. Black operations in areas of strategic interest to U.S. policy planners spread death and destruction, particularly where rich petrochemical and mineral reserves owned by other people are lusted after by American multinationals.

Corporate media collaborate in this charade; pointing the finger at black and brown citizens, white elites on both sides of the border escape scrutiny. It is far easier to demonize black and brown youth as “predators” than to take a hard look in the mirror at a ruling class that are the real American drug lords.

And still we wonder why Mexico is slowly transformed into a killing field.

Posted via email from ElyssaD's Posterous