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Tsarnaev, Silence, and Remorse, Part II

Kent has noted that, on the current uncertain state of the law, prosecutors would be taking a risk if they use Tsarnaev's (presumed) silence as evidence of lack of remorse.  I concur.  But there's more to this story.

At first, I agreed with the conventional wisdom that defense counsel would not call their client to the stand.  Now, I have my doubts.  The government's evidence of the savagery and cruelty of this crime in my view makes the death penalty likely unless the defense can move the ball.

I think their best shot to avoid lethal injection is to call Tsarnaev and have him show remorse.  If he does so, and makes a convincing showing, I think he lives. It would help if he broke down in tears of grief in a way that struck the jury as sincere, and not a coached performance.

And there's the rub.  I have seen not a lick of evidence that Tsarnaev actually feels any differently than he did the day of his capture.  That afternoon, he scribbled a note to the effect that he was in a Holy War against the United States, and if there was "collateral damage," in the phrase made immortal by his fellow butcher Timothy McVeigh, well......tough.

My guess is that it will depend on defense counsel's assessment whether Tsarnaev can pull it off, and that he won't break out in an anti-American diatribe during cross-examination.  Having to make judgments like that is one of many reasons I'm happy I did not become a defense lawyer.
Two years ago today, the ever-so-cute Dzhokhar Tsarneav planted a nail-filled pressure cooker bomb at the feet of an eight year-old boy, Martin Richard, he did not know and who had done him no harm.  It had the intended result:

The child lost so much blood, there was almost none left in his body. The Boston jihadi Tsarnaev "believed what he had done was good, that he is a Muslim soldier in a holy war against America and had taken a step to reaching paradise." 

And what was the take away?  "Beware Islamophobia!"  As NPR reports:

A moment of silence, a call for kindness and the pealing of the city's church bells will be the hallmarks of Boston's events noting the two-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon on Wednesday.

The moment of silence will be observed at 2:49 ET, the time when the first of two devastating bombs went off in the crowds gathered to watch the marathon in 2013.

Mayor Marty Walsh has declared April 15 One Boston Day, beginning a tradition that organizers say is about "resiliency, generosity, and strength of the people that make Boston the great city it is."

A somber and subdued attitude is, of course, fitting for this day.  A tribute to resiliency has its place.  Still, it's more telling than unfortunate that Mayor Walsh could find no room in his remarks for the most important word:


Defendants' War on Black Children

CNN (and numerous other outlets) covered today's sentencing of a number of Atlanta school teachers and administrators convicted in a huge cheating scandal that stretched back at least a decade.

The real victims of the cheating were not the taxpayers of Atlanta (although they got cheated, too).  They were thousands of children, overwhelmingly African-American, who were deprived of a fighting chance to get a decent education.

On display today was the kind of "it's-everybody-else's-fault" arrogance I saw again and again from defendants, belligerently abetted by their lawyers.

For those who say they care about children, about decent schools, about giving "the vulnerable" a chance, today was an object lesson.  Whose side was the prosecution on?  Whose side was the defense on?

See for yourself.

The South Carolina Shooting

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On this blog we often choose not to comment on crime-related news stories when essential facts have yet to be established.  The news media are notorious for adopting a narrative that will propel what may be an unfortunate yet unremarkable local incident into an emotionally-charged national story.  This is particularly true with officer-involved shootings where the officer is white and the suspect is black.  In most such cases the media and a fraternity of recognized race-baiters have been proven totally wrong about what happened.  Sometimes, before the truth is known, there are riots, killings, and occasionally murders in retaliation for injustices later found to have not occurred.  There is no need to delay commenting on the April 4th shooting in North Charleston.

Guilty as Hell

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been convicted on all 30 charges against him, including 17 punishable by death. 

The sentencing phase will begin soon, at which the abolitionist crowd, regardless of the horrifying facts of this case, will be rooting for the defense side.  How anyone can root for this defendant at any point and in any form or fashion just mystifies me.

The CNN story reports that, "Tsarnaev stood with his head bowed and his hands clasped as the verdicts were read."  I congratulate counsel on a good job of coaching.  Tsarnaev's scribbled note inside the boat where he was captured gave the unscrubbed version of his degree of contrition, to wit, none.  Whether counsel will be able to persuade him to continue occasionally faking contrition is an open question.

I'll bet $100 here and now, however, that he will not take the stand.  Under cross examination, there's too much chance his hatred for infidels, and the United States generally, will come out, thus tanking his it-was-all-my-brother's-idea theory of "mitigation."
I neglected to note in my entry earlier today the prior subject of Rolling Stone's affection.  And no, I am not referring to the fellow who rolls a joint, smokes it on the police station steps, then complains that his arrest and $50 fine (if that) is the Fascist Boot.  I am not even referring to the fabulist, "Jackie," or the hoaxmeister, Sabrina Erdely.

Accountability, Rolling Stone Style

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Rolling Stone sold a lot of issues, and made a big splash in journalism, by "reporting" the story of a savage gang rape undertaken at, and perpetrated by members of, the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the University of Virginia.  As a result, the frat house was picketed and vandalized, and some of its members had to go into hiding.  It, along with every other fraternity on campus, had its activities suspended without a hearing, and was compelled to undergo some kind of sex sensitivity "training."

It was a hoax.  The fraternity did nothing wrong and its members did nothing wrong. It's not that the sex was consensual.  It simply never happened.  Apologists for the source of this fraud, one (understandably anonymous) "Jackie," still maintain that "something awful might have happened to her that night," but they provide not a shred of evidence.

They are correct, however, that something awful has happened.  As with Darren Wilson and the Duke lacrosse team, an atrocious accusation got peddled and broadcast nationwide, not in the service of truth, but in the service of PC Belligerence and Self-Anointed Victims.  

Notes on the Menendez Indictment

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My friend Scott Johnson at Powerline has a fair-mined if somewhat skeptical take on yesterday's oddly timed federal indictment of "No-Deal-with-Iran" Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey.  As Scott observes:

The facts alleged in the indictment may to a great extent make out what former Wall Street Journal reporter Brooks Jackson denominated "honest graft." Much of the indictment is devoted to a recitation of activities that must be business as usual in Washington, or close to it.

The activities itemized in the indictment go back as far as 2006. It is certainly fair to wonder why the indictment has been handed up now and to doubt that Senator Menendez's leading role criticizing the foreign policy of the Obama administration is merely a big coincidence.

In part, the indictment vaguely charges Senator Menendez with quid-pro-quo corruption in paragraph 9(b). When one looks for specific "quids" given in exchange for specific "quos," the indictment is evasive...

One damning set of facts goes to Senator Menendez's acceptance of "gifts" (flights and vacation accommodations) worth thousands of dollars together with their omission on the reports Senator Menendez was required to file with the Senate (paragraphs 64-69). The New Jersey Star-Ledger comments: "Regardless of the outcome, it is hard to fathom Menendez's lack of judgment after a long career in a state that has been cursed by so much corruption. Why would he even dance close to this line?"

I am left wondering largely what I wondered yesterday: Why does a high officer of the government line his pockets in ways that stink; and why, if he must do so, does the Justice Department take issue with it only now, as the official has become a political thorn in its side  --  timing that also stinks.

As I said in the comments section of another entry, it is the prerogative, and in this instance the duty, of the political branches to give us some transparency about this indictment. We had Congressional hearings about Benghazi, and we could use some here as well.

Kent posted earlier today the words of then-Attorney General Robert H. Jackson. Jackson's remarks are long, but well worth your read because they shed so much light on so many questions involving the power and judgment of United States Attorneys.

Those subjects would become especially pointed in a matter of hours.  On what is almost certainly the eve of a politically incendiary deal with Iran, the Justice Department indicted Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey on corruption charges. The Wall Street Journal has the story.

Sen. Menendez is by far the most prominent Democratic opponent of the deal. His outspoken opposition creates substantial headaches for the Administration, because it complicates the coming spin that criticism of the deal is just partisan Republican obstructionism.

I have not read today's indictment.  At present, I am certain of only three things, based on my experience as both a civil service and politically-appointed officer at DOJ. First, Sen. Menendez is entitled to the presumption of innocence, and I hope he gets more of it than Darren Wilson ever did.  Second, the feds almost never indict without a very strong factual case for guilt, and you can be sure that that is true in this well-publicized matter.  Third, the timing of this indictment smells to high heaven.  

UPDATE:  On the same day the Administration decides to indict its political enemy, it decides not to indict its political ally, Lois Lerner, in a matter related to her using her office at the IRS to target conservatives.  Politico has the story, and the stench from politics mixed with the power of prosecution just got considerably worse.
The WSJ discusses the prosecution of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, illustrating why the pardon I predict (at a politically convenient moment for the Commander-in-Chief) will be a betrayal of duty and honor by the President even more stunning than Bergdahl's embrace of Jihad:

[T]he bigger story [in the Bergdahl case] is the extravagant price the U.S. has paid because President Obama wanted to score political points.

Readers will recall that then-Private First Class Bergdahl went missing from his post in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009. Fellow soldiers suspected desertion, though the Army conducted a risky manhunt to recover him...

The Associated Press has reported that an internal Pentagon investigation in 2010 found "incontrovertible" evidence that he had walked away from his post. Journalists also uncovered an exchange of letters in which the soldier wrote to his father "the title of U.S. soldier is just the lie of fools," that he was "ashamed to even be american," and that "the future is too good to waste on lies." Replied father Robert: "OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!"

All of this would have been known to President Obama and National Security AdviserSusan Rice when the Administration decided to swap Sgt. Bergdahl for five Guantanamo Bay detainees--all top Taliban leaders--in May 2014. Mr. Obama even invited Sgt. Bergdahl's parents to a [chipper  --  ed. addition] Rose Garden ceremony to announce the swap, while Ms. Rice declared on a Sunday talk show that the soldier had served his country with "honor and distinction."

It Was Murder

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The most shocking news this morning is reported by the Wall Street Journal:

The co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 appears to have deliberately crashed the plane after he was left alone in the cockpit, according to a French prosecutor.

The captain was intentionally locked outside minutes before the A320 crashed into an alpine mountain ridge, French Prosecutor Brice Robin said Thursday. Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, a 28-year-old German national, was silent throughout the plane's descent and was alive at the point of impact, according to the prosecutor.

Mr. Robin's conclusions are drawn from the plane's cockpit voice recorder, recovered at the crash site in the French Alps late Tuesday and analyzed by French accident investigators on Wednesday.

The recording contains screams believed to be from passengers, once they recognized the plane was crashing.

As with ISIS's burning to death a caged Jordanian pilot, the mind-bending horror of a mass murder undertaken like this causes me to wonder how any principled person can woodenly oppose capital punishment.  It took eight to ten minutes for the plane to hit the ground, after a steep, controlled dive that those on board could not have helped knowing was their last time on this earth. The horror and panic of it, multiplied for 150 passengers, is something I cannot put into words.

The co-pilot who engineered this horror died in it.  But he might have survived  -- it happens every now and again.  Had that happened, it's beyond my comprehension that a jury of fair-minded people, after hearing all the evidence, should be absolutely barred from having at least the chance to consider a death sentence.

The idea that a term of years is fitting punishment for the horror-laden, violent murders of dozens of helpless men, women and children  --  people subjected to a grotesque mental torture incapable of description (before being smashed to death)  -- is incoherent in any system I could recognize as civilized.

Serving with "Honor and Distinction"

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Those are the words the President's National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, used to characterize Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.  It was politically necessary for Ms. Rice to praise Bergdahl in order to defend her boss from criticism that he had swapped five high value Taliban commanders for one traitor.

Today, Mr. Honor and Distinction was formally charged with desertion in battle and (in effect) cooperating with the enemy.

Confession #1:  I previously, and it now turns out wrongly, predicted that the Administration would just let the whole mess disappear into the fog, because it has no heart for prosecuting a "misguided youth."

Confession #2:  I also predicted, also wrongly, that if perchance the Administration allowed the Army's investigation to proceed at all, it would be cut short by a preemptive pardon, which I wrote here.

Prediction:  In light of my record of fumbling, I could scarcely blame readers for discounting my next prediction, but here it is anyway.  There won't be a Bergdahl pardon until roughly 21 months from now, after the 2016 election, and "in the spirit of Christmas."  Marc Rich, call your office.

A Culture of Rape or a Culture of Lies?

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According to multiple sources, including this ABC News piece, the sensational story of a sadistic gang rape by (white, let's not forget that) frat boys is unsupported by any substantive evidence.  In other words, after searching for months, the police couldn't find a single witness or a single piece of forensic evidence to support the story.  Zip. The ABC article begins (emphasis added);

A five-month police investigation into an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, described in graphic detail in a Rolling Stone article, showed no evidence the attack took place and was stymied by the accuser's unwillingness to cooperate, authorities said Monday.

The article entitled "A rape on campus" traced the story from a student identified only as "Jackie," who said she was raped at a Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house on September, 28, 2012. Police said there were numerous discrepancies between the article and what they found in their investigation.

"All I can tell you is that there is no substantive basis to conclude that what was reported in that article happened," Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said.

Longo said Jackie first described a sexual assault in May 2013 when she met with a dean about an academic issue, but "the sexual act was not consistent with what was described" in the Rolling Stone article. When she met with police, she didn't want them to investigate the alleged assault.

She also refused to talk to police after the article was printed in November and ignited the national conversation about sexual assaults on college campuses. 

Ah, yes, our old friend the "national conversation."
The fact-checkers at the WaPo award their maximum falsehood rating.
Heather MacDonald has this article in the Weekly Standard on the two USDoJ reports on Ferguson, Missouri.  She notes, as has previously been noted elsewhere, that the report on Officer Wilson's shooting of Michael Brown is much more than a "not enough evidence to prosecute" finding.  It is a clear exoneration of Wilson and a repudiation of the fabricated story that led to the protests and the riots.

The mainstream media, however, have now turned their attention exclusively to the second Justice Department report, the one on Ferguson's police department. The Brown report and its implications for the anticop crusade are out of sight and out of mind. The two reports were produced by different sections of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, and it shows. The Brown report, written by the Criminal Section, in conjunction with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Missouri, displays a striking understanding of police work. It respects longstanding legal presumptions protecting police discretion from unjustified second-guessing. The Ferguson Police Department report came out of the Special Litigation Section, known for its hostility to the police and staffed almost exclusively by graduates of left-wing advocacy groups, as Hans von Spakovsky noted in the National Interest. No wonder that it strains so hard to cobble together a case of systemic intentional discrimination out of data that show only that law enforcement has a disparate impact on blacks.
Why were the two reports released on the same day?  The diminished media interest in the Wilson/Brown report may have been a completely intended consequence.

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