Friday, April 25, 2008

Bell Verdict In

NYPD detectives acquitted in 50-shot killing
By TOM HAYS – 1 hour ago

NEW YORK (AP) — Three detectives were acquitted of all charges Friday in the 50-shot killing of an unarmed groom-to-be on his wedding day, a case that put the NYPD at the center of another dispute involving allegations of excessive firepower.

Justice Arthur Cooperman delivered the verdict in a Queens courtroom packed with spectators, including victim Sean Bell's fiancee and parents, and at least 200 people gathered outside the building.

The verdict provoked an outpouring of emotions: Bell's fiancee immediately walked out of the room. His mother cried.

Outside the courthouse, which was surrounded by scores of police officers, many in the crowd began weeping as news of the verdict said. Others were enraged, swearing and screaming "Murderers! Murderers!" or "KKK!"

Bell, a 23-year-old black man, was killed in a hail of gunfire outside a seedy strip club in Queens on Nov. 25, 2006 — his wedding day — as he was leaving his bachelor party with two friends.

Officers Michael Oliver, 36, and Gescard Isnora, 29, stood trial for manslaughter while Officer Marc Cooper, 40, was charged only with reckless endangerment. Two other shooters weren't charged. Oliver squeezed off 31 shots; Isnora fired 11 rounds; and Cooper shot four times.

The officers, complaining that pretrial publicity had unfairly painted them as cold-blooded killers, opted to have the judge decide the case rather than a jury.

The judge indicated that the police officers' version of events was more credible than the victims' version. "The people have not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that each defendant was not justified" in firing, he said.

A conviction on manslaughter could have brought up to 25 years in prison; the penalty for reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, is a year behind bars.

The case brought back painful memories of other NYPD shootings, such as the 1999 shooting of Amadou Diallo — an African immigrant who was gunned down in a hail of 41 bullets by police officers who mistook his wallet for a gun. The acquittal of the officers in that case created a storm of protest, with hundreds arrested after taking to the streets in demonstration.

The mood surrounding this case has been muted by comparison, although Bell's fiancee, parents and their supporters, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, have held rallies demanding that the officers — two of whom are black — be held accountable.

Still, a phalanx of police officers, some uniformed and some in the department's community affairs polo shirts, was stationed outside the courthouse Friday. The building was ringed by metal barricades. Some in the crowd wore buttons with Bell's picture or held signs saying "Justice for Sean Bell." After the verdict was read, some in the crowd approached officers but were held back; the jostling quickly died down.

After the verdict, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly acknowledged that some people were disappointed with the acquittals.

"We don't anticipate violence, but we are prepared for any contingency," he said.

The nearly two-month trial was marked by deeply divergent accounts of the night.

The defense painted the victims as drunken thugs who the officers believed were armed and dangerous. Prosecutors sought to convince the judge that the victims had been minding their own business, and that the officers were inept, trigger-happy aggressors.

None of the officers took the witness stand in his own defense. Instead, Cooperman heard transcripts of the officers testifying before a grand jury, saying they believed they had good reason to use deadly force. The judge also heard testimony from Bell's two injured companions, who insisted the maelstrom erupted without warning.

Both sides were consistent on one point: The utter chaos surrounding the last moments of Bell's life.

"It happened so quick," Isnora said in his grand jury testimony. "It was like the last thing I ever wanted to do."

Bell's companions — Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman — also offered dramatic testimony about the episode. Benefield and Guzman were both wounded; Guzman still has four bullets lodged in his body.

Referring to Isnora, Guzman said, "This dude is shooting like he's crazy, like he's out of his mind."

The victims and shooters were set on a fateful collision course by a pair of innocuous decisions: Bell's to have a last-minute bachelor party at Kalua Cabaret, and the undercover detectives' to investigate reports of prostitution at the club.

As the club closed around 4 a.m., Sanchez and Isnora claimed they overheard Bell and his friends first flirt with women, then taunt a stranger who responded by putting his right hand in his pocket as if he had a gun. Guzman, they testified, said, "Yo, go get my gun" — something Bell's friends denied.

Isnora said he decided to arm himself, call for backup — "It's getting hot," he told his supervisor — and tail Bell, Guzman and Benefield as they went around the corner and got into Bell's car. He claimed that after warning the men to halt, Bell pulled away, bumped him and rammed an unmarked police van that converged on the scene with Oliver at the wheel.

The detective also alleged that Guzman made a sudden move as if he were reaching for a gun.

"I yelled 'Gun!' and fired," he said. "In my mind, I knew (Guzman) had a gun."

Benefield and Guzman testified that there were no orders. Instead, Guzman said, Isnora "appeared out of nowhere" with a gun drawn and shot him in the shoulder — the first of 16 shots to enter his body.

"That's all there was — gunfire," he said. "There wasn't nothing else."

With tires screeching, glass breaking and bullets flying, the officers claimed that they believed they were the ones under fire. Oliver responded by emptying his semiautomatic pistol, reloading, and emptying it again, as the supervisor sought cover.

The truth emerged when the smoke cleared: There was no weapon inside Bell's blood-splattered car.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

Updates for 20 April

Hail,

50 tracks added/changed today and 33 on 17 April. Glad to see (most) of you approve of the new Hellhammer release. Nice to hear all those tunes without the hiss and drops of multi-copied boots.

Keep your heads up. Victory will come.

Thanks for your support.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

Petraeus Points to War With Iran

By Patrick J. Buchanan
Friday, April 11, 2008

The neocons may yet get their war on Iran.

Ever since President Nouri al-Maliki ordered the attacks in Basra on the Mahdi Army, Gen. David Petraeus has been laying the predicate for U.S. air strikes on Iran and a wider war in the Middle East.

Iran, Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee, has "fueled the recent violence in a particularly damaging way through its lethal support of the special groups."

These "special groups" are "funded, trained, armed and directed by Iran's Quds Force with help from Lebanese Hezbollah. It was these groups that launched Iranian rockets and mortar rounds at Iraq's seat of government (the Green Zone) ... causing loss of innocent life and fear in the capital."

Is the Iranian government aware of this -- and behind it?

"President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders" promised to end their "support for the special groups," said the general, but the "nefarious activities of the Quds force have continued."

Are Iranians then murdering Americans, asked Joe Lieberman:

"Is it fair to say that the Iranian-backed special groups in Iraq are responsible for the murder of hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians?"

"It certainly is. ... That is correct," said Petraeus.

The following day, Petraeus told the House Armed Services Committee, "Unchecked, the 'special groups' pose the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq."

Translation: The United States is now fighting the proxies of Iran for the future of Iraq.

The general's testimony is forcing Bush's hand, for consider the question it logically raises: If the Quds Force and Hezbollah, both designated as terrorist organizations, are arming, training and directing "special groups" to "murder" Americans, and rocket and mortar the Green Zone to kill our diplomats, and they now represent the No. 1 threat to a free Iraq, why has Bush failed to neutralize these base camps of terror and aggression?

Hence, be not surprised if President Bush appears before the TV cameras, one day soon, to declare:

"My commanding general in Iraq, David Petraeus, has told me that Iran, with the knowledge of President Ahmadinejad, has become a privileged sanctuary for two terrorist organizations -- Hezbollah and the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard -- to train, arm and direct terrorist attacks on U.S. and coalition forces, despite repeated promises to halt this murderous practice.

"I have therefore directed U.S. air and naval forces to begin air strikes on these base camps of terror. Our attacks will continue until the Iranian attacks cease."

Because of the failures of a Democratic Congress elected to end the war, Bush can now make a compelling case that he would be acting fully within his authority as commander in chief.

In early 2007, Nancy Pelosi pulled down a resolution that would have denied Bush the authority to attack Iran without congressional approval. In September, both Houses passed the Kyl-Lieberman resolution designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.

Courtesy of Congress, Bush thus has a blank check for war on Iran.
And the signs are growing that he intends to fill it in and cash it.

Israel has been hurling invective at Iran and conducting security drills to prepare its population for rocket barrages worse than those Hezbollah delivered in the Lebanon War.

Adm. William "Fox" Fallon, the Central Command head who opposed war with Iran, has been removed. Hamas and Hezbollah have been stocking up on Qassam and Katyusha rockets.

Vice President Cheney has lately toured Arab capitals.

And President Ahmadinejad just made international headlines by declaring that Tehran will begin installing 6,000 advanced centrifuges to accelerate Iran's enrichment of uranium.

This is Bush's last chance to strike and, when Iran responds, to effect its nuclear castration. Are Bush and Cheney likely to pass up this last chance to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities and effect the election of John McCain? For any attack on Iran's "terrorist bases" would rally the GOP and drive a wedge between Obama and Hillary.

Indeed, Sen. Clinton, who voted to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, could hardly denounce Bush for ordering air strikes on the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, when Petraeus testified, in her presence, that it is behind the serial murder of U.S. soldiers.

The Iranians may sense what is afoot. For Tehran helped broker the truce in the Maliki-Sadr clash in Basra, and has called for a halt to the mortar and rocket attacks on the Green Zone.

With a friendly regime in Baghdad that rolled out the red carpet for Ahmadinejad, Iran has nothing to gain by war. Already, it is the big winner from the U.S. wars that took down Tehran's Taliban enemies, decimated its al-Qaida enemies and destroyed its Sunni enemies, Saddam and his Baath Party.

No, it is not Iran that wants a war with the United States. It is the United States that has reasons to want a short, sharp war with Iran.

Where is the update????????

Hails,

We had a small bunker plumbing issue yesterday so there will be no update. On Sunday, provided we are not rowing around the bunker, there will be a larger update and possibly some changes in the featured artists.

Thanks for your support.