Shooting news-again

Two very tragic stories to report about people and handguns and how the two sometimes end up in disastrous situations.  If you’re going to get a handgun or weapon of any kind please know how to carry yourselves with it and remember dont’ ever do what you see people do on television!

The first story is from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where a pharmacist shot a robber as he and his cohort in crime attempted to rob a pharmacy,  chased the robber’s accomplice, returned and shot the prone robber again, five more times, killing him!  It also happened that the robber shot was unarmed, while the armed robber escaped and hadn’t been caught.  The pharmacist claims he was grazed by a bullet fired by the robber, but prosecutors say there was no evidence the robbers fired a weapon; it would be interesting to see if Jerome Ersland, the pharmacist suffered any wounds from the encounter.  Ersland claims he shot the robber to protect himself and several other people who were in the store at the time, but the district attorney asks why did he leave the fallen robber, who had no weapon, on the floor to chase the armed robber outside of the store?  Good question!  In this arm chair quarterback’s opinion, Mr. Ersland would have had a stronger case for not leaving his business and keeping an eye on the victim, yes, even covered him with his weapon, rather than walk past him twice before shooting him again.  I also agree with the DA who said the first shot was on the law as it were, ok for Ersland to fire because he was accosted by armed men, but once the threats were removed, he couldn’t seriously claim he was in fear for his life or for the lives of others in the store.  He should therefore be prosecuted.

The second story however is far more tragic than even the one above. An off duty New York City police officer was shot by a fellow officer as he, the victim, pursued someone who had broken into his car.  Unfortunately, he was running after the perpetrator with his service weapon drawn, and happened to catch the eye of a plain clothes fellow officer who fatally shot him.  In a city like New York, it’s probably not very smart to run around with a handgun in your hand in plain view to everybody, unless you’re wearing a law enforcement uniform so that wasn’t a very smart thing to do.  I don’t particularly like the idea of plain clothes officers confronting people on the street unless they make it very clear to someone that they are law enforcement officers, otherwise any confrontation could end up deadly, as it did in this case. I do believe this was an accident,  despite the racial overtones,  victim was black and the shooter was white, and the sloppy police work of the shooting officer,   that could have probably been avoided if the deceased hadn’t drawn  his firearm and run down the street chasing a petty burglar.  There won’t be a prosecution in this case and an innocent life was lost; my heart goes out to the family.

We were wrong!

Once again we are told our conduct during the war on terror was criminal in nature, and this time it comes from almost the top!  General David Petraeus went on live television, thank God it was live and not something that could be later edited out of an interview, and said the United States of America violated the Geneva Conventions, read that broke the law. Petraeus was appointed by the Bush administration to lead the war effort in Iraq and I think it’s significant he would come out so publicly and disavow the direction his boss took in carrying out the war on terror.  However, most of us knew that  long before Petraeus joined in this fracas, and indeed many have been saying so since the  inception of the war on terror; it  was a diversionary one meant to mask or cover up the real agenda of the people in power during the Bush years.

The whole issue of torture is also an indication of where America is as a Nation.  Sixty years ago, post World War II,  there would be no discussion of whether waterboarding was torture, and what the consequences are for those who participate in such illegal activity, let alone whether such tactics are effective.  Now however, a lot of time and effort has been put into describing this technique as ‘enhanced interrogation’ to make it as benign as possible and allow some a chance to escape from the penalty of law.  I’m glad to see someone on the front line of war and terror, Petraeus,  saying that it is a violation of international law, as opposed to the arm chair quarterbacks and political pundits who seem to make their punditry akin to the life and death of fighting in real wars proclaiming the opposite.

Now comes word that sugar free cookies went further to produce actionable intelligence than waterboarding.

The most successful interrogation of an Al-Qaeda operative by U.S. officials required no sleep deprivation, no slapping or “walling” and no waterboarding. All it took to soften up Abu Jandal, who had been closer to Osama bin Laden than any other terrorist ever captured, was a handful of sugar-free cookies.

Abu Jandal had been in a Yemeni prison for nearly a year when Ali Soufan of the FBI and Robert McFadden of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service arrived to interrogate him in the week after 9/11…..

While Abu Jandal was venting his spleen, Soufan noticed that he didn’t touch any of the cookies that had been served with tea: “He was a diabetic and couldn’t eat anything with sugar in it.” At their next meeting, the Americans brought him some sugar-free cookies, a gesture that took the edge off Abu Jandal’s angry demeanor. “We had showed him respect, and we had done this nice thing for him,” Soufan recalls. “So he started talking to us instead of giving us lectures.”It took more questioning, and some interrogators’ sleight of hand, before the Yemeni gave up a wealth of information about al-Qaeda — including the identities of seven of the 9/11 bombers — but the cookies were the turning point. “After that, he could no longer think of us as evil Americans,” Soufan says. “Now he was thinking of us as human beings.”

What does that say about a country far more interested in torture and sadism to get information than cookies and respect?  This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that interrogation methods that stressed identifying with the prisoner, affording him his rights and treating him with respect got more information out of him than banging his head against a wall or waterboarding him.  Post 911 we were an angry country and some people in government took advantage of that rage to settle age old scores of tribes and jealousy which have had a devastating impact on the psyche of the country.  We have worsened this problem by refusing to admit it exists and/or addressing it and the ultimate abuse of the country is to allow the perpetrators of this criminal activity to go free.  Forgetting about the criminality and who did it does not spare the collective from our mental anguish.  American military personnel  felt perfectly justified posing and smiling next to dead bodies, or smearing human feces on people to take their pictures and laugh or as has been more recently asserted, raping and sodomizing women and children all under the guise of authorities of the United States.  We should not give any one that kind of power to abuse what the country has fought for and sustained for so many years until now.  Nothing will do more to drive that point home than for the citizenry to rise up and demand all people who participated in illegal activity in our name be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  I hope you will join me in making that proclamation!