Saturday, December 22, 2007

Upcoming Series on Duke Hoax/Frame

In The N&O's Duke Hoax Role I explained why it’s important to take a fresh look at the Raleigh News & Observer’s coverage of what in Spring 2006 was commonly called “the Duke lacrosse rape scandal.”

I told readers I’m planning a post series (about 20) to run in Jan. and Feb concerning the coverage and promised to provide some outline information concerning the series in a separate post.

This is that post.

The series is a work in progress. I’m learning as I go along. What I’m learning will not only show up in the texts of posts; some of it has already forced me to modify the planned structure of the series.

For example, I always intended to work into various posts text material N&O readers and editors posted at the N&O’s Editors’ Blog and Readers Corner blogs.

But after reading through the scores of N&O editors’ posts and their responses to readers, and then what are easily over 1200 reader comments, some quite lengthy, I’ve decided to include in the series two stand-alone posts focused solely on the N&O’s blogs’ part of the paper’s Duke Hoax coverage.

Another structural change has to do with N&O reporter Joe Neff, called by some a “hero of the Hoax.”

Researching for the series confirms what many, myself included, have said: Neff produced some fine stories based on examination of court documents and statements made by principals in the case.

But research also raises some important questions: Why, for instance, in the first Duke lacrosse story I found in which Neff’s listed as a reporter, does the story report near its end on the criminal background of the accuser but omit the crucial fact that at the time of the crimes in 2002, the accuser was lap-dancing at a men’s club? Why did the N&O’s public editor consider recommending removing Neff from covering the case? Why, on May 22, 2007, did Neff tell a National Press Club panel audience the N&O never used anonymous sources during its Duke lacrosse coverage?

Because of those and other questions concerning Neff, I’m reworking the series structure to include at least one stand-alone post examining his reporting and seeking to answer questions concerning it.

I plan stand-alone posts for two other N&O journalists: vice president and executive editor for news Melanie Sill, who’s since left the McClatchy News Company owned N&O to assume an identical position at McClatchy’s flagship paper, the Sacramento Bee and public editor Ted Vaden.

The first series post will set out my objectives, briefly review the N&O’s history with regard to politics, race, and political correctness, and provide some information about the N&O’s place among North Carolina news organizations.

Subsequent posts will include one summarizing N&O coverage from Mar. 24 to Mar. 28, 2006, the period from the time the public first heard “Duke lacrosse case” to the first N&O reports of Mike Nifong’s public news conferences, including the one in which calls the Duke students “hooligans.”

That post will be followed by one which will do two things: 1) document what the N&O knew but didn’t tell the public during the critical Mar. 24 to Mar. 28 period when the players were being publicly framed as the “Wanted” and “Vigilante” posters were produced (news suppression); and 2) cite failures by the N&O to gather statements and report on matters a responsible newspaper could reasonably be expected to report.

For example: That when defense attorneys come on a case it’s routine for them to tell their clients to be silent. I must so far have spoken to at least 10 attorneys who’ve told me the N&O could easily have found attorneys not on the case who would have been willing to be quoted as saying such advice to clients is routine as is attorneys’ silence until they’re familiar with the case and know more about their clients role, if any, in it.

The following post will do two things: 1) examine when and with what explanations the N&O has subsequently admitted some of what it knew at the time but didn’t report; and 2) cite important matters the N&O should long ago have disclosed to readers but has so far refused to do.

For instance, telling readers just how it was led to Crystal Mangum on Mar. 24 and how her agreement to be interviewed was obtained.

Did someone in the DA’s office or DPD help lead the N&O to Mangum and perhaps tell her that the N&O was a newspaper she could trust?

There’ll be much more in the series before it ends with a look at how three sources – the American Journalism Review, Stuart Taylor/KC Johnson’s Until Proven Innocent and the N&O itself – have assessed the N&O’s Duke lacrosse coverage and some comments of my own.

I hope you decide to read the series and find it worthwhile.

I plan to begin on Jan. 10.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Churchill Series - Dec. 21, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Christmas is approaching and we think of children. That brought to mind my favorite child in the whole series excepting Churchill himself. The child, a London newspaper boy, appeared in a series post published almost two years ago.

It began by asking: Did you know Churchill disliked whistling? His aides did and made sure no one whistled when he was around.

But there was a London newsboy who didn’t know about Churchill’s dislike. What’s more, when he learned of it from Churchill himself, the boy didn’t care.

The incident happened one day as Churchill and his bodyguard, Detective Inspector Walter Thompson, were making the short walk from Parliament to 10 Downing Street. As Thompson tells it:

Approaching …(us) was a boy of about thirteen years of age, hands in pockets, newspapers under his arms, whistling loudly and cheerfully.

When the boy drew near, Winston hunched his shoulders, walked towards the boy and said in a stern voice: “Stop that whistling.”

The boy looked up at the Prime Minister with complete unconcern and answered: “Why should I?”

“Because I don’t like it and it’s a horrible noise,” growled Winston.

The boy moved onwards a few steps, then turned round and called out: “Well, you can shut your ears, can’t you?”

With that he walked on.

Winston was completely taken aback, and for a moment he looked furious. Then, as he crossed the road, he began to smile and quietly repeated to himself the words “You can shut your ears, can’t you?” and followed it up with a hearty chuckle.
I wonder whether Churchill chuckled because in his mind’s eye he saw something of himself in the boy.

There will be no series posts on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But there will be a special Churchill post this Sunday. Look for a post titled Churchill and the toy trains.

I hope you enjoy the weekend and visit Sunday.

Tom Hickman, Churchill's Bodyguard. (pgs, 116-117)

Former Officer to DPD Chief: Clean House Now

Readers Note:

Today's Durham Herald Sun carries an op-ed by former Durham Police officer Jerry Grugin, "House cleaning needed at Police Department." It follows in its entirety. I'll comment on it tomorrow.

Your comments are welcome anytime.


With another federal lawsuit initiated by more Duke lacrosse players, one has to wonder just what has been done by city officials to ensure that a tragedy like this one never happens again. After all the publicity and all the shame the City of Durham and its police department face, and after no complete accounting of the lacrosse investigation, one has to contemplate why the City of Durham wishes to vigorously fight the lawsuits.

And why has Chief Jose Lopez not demanded full accountability of the case? With history having already been made, and more history in the making, city leaders really need to get a full grasp on the gravity of the situation and demand accountability of the involved members of the police department.

Instead, this has happened:

First, no person in the police department has been fired regarding the lacrosse tragedy. This is amazing, considering the tragedy is probably one of the most damaging to the craft of law enforcement throughout the country in recent memory.

Second, the Willis Whichard committee was dissolved and has not been reinstated. Why has this happened?

Third, where is the current leadership in the police department and why aren't they standing up in an attempt to do the right thing instead of riding through this firestorm?

I cannot remember so many lawsuits against the city and the police department. Currently, there is a reporter, a police officer, and two groups of lacrosse players that have filed or are filing lawsuits against the city and its police department. And these are just the ones I have read about. All these lawsuits should send a very big message.

It is time to clean house at the police department. It is far overdue. Citizens of Durham should demand this happen. It is not too late for Chief Lopez to demand change, but it will be if he waits much longer.

Until real change is made at the police department, the citizens of Durham can expect their city and their police department to come under more scrutiny and embarrassment. They can expect more lawsuits. They can expect more of the same.

I spent 13 years as a Durham police officer. When I was hired, I was truly proud to be part of such a noble profession. In that period, I saw the Durham Police Department go from being one of the most respected in the region, to one of the most laughed at in the region.

There is a reason why that happened. It is a shame that nobody has had the ability to reverse the course and make things right again.

Now I am exuberant I am no longer part of a department which continues down such a road.

Latest Suit & Reader Comments (Post 2)

Readers Note:

The purposes of this post are: 1) to call your attention a string of more than 30 comments on the thread of Latest Suit & Reader Comments which string one commenter just characterized as “[w]onderful, thoughtful comments and debate;” and 2) to provide a more current thread for "the conversation" so others will be more likely to "find the conversation" because it's on the thread of a more current post.

I’m posting the following comment Red Mountain made just a few minutes ago not to agree or disagree with it, but to offer it as the latest example of the civility and seriousness of “the conversation” on the thread.

To Anon @ 12:33 and your question re Barry Saunders ever making a joke about the Duke 3 getting raped in prison. If he has, I haven't seen it. I have however seen jokes about Nifong getting raped in prison, which was not one of the prouder moments for that particular board.

Emotions tend to run high on both sides of this case, and jumping to conclusions and stereotyping people is common.

I tend to be skeptical of everything I read in the mainstream media just as I tend to be skeptical of this lawsuit, certainly at least until I see some of the defendants responses to it. I do believe the American justice system will sort this out and I am rooting hard for justice in this case.

From a historical perspective, I think this case is very important and I believe it is even more important that we get the true history here.
If you have not already read the posts Local Coverage of Latest Suit and Latest Suit & Reader Comments and their threads, I encourage you to do so.

I’ll be delighted if “the conversation” continues on this new Post 2 thread but if people want to continue on the other threads, they’re free to do so.

One caution: Civil, fact-based and thoughtful "conversations" in which people listen to each other always upset trolls, who usually then come crashing in to disturb "the conversation" and drive off the thoughtful commenters.

I’ll be here often with my finger close to the “delete” button.

I'll also post later tonight a few more of my own thoughts concerning this latest suit filing.

That said, let “the conversation” continue.


Latest Suit & Reader Comments

I promised something tonight responding to the extremely thoughtful comments on the thread of this post: Local Coverage of Latest Suit.

What I’m about to offer isn’t as good as it ought to be because it’s a busy time of year. But I’ve reviewed what I’m posting here and think it’s a “not too bad” response I’ll stand with.

Now to begin:

In one way or another, most of you commenting have made clear you see the suit filed two days ago by attorney Bob Ekstrand on behalf of three unindicted Duke students who played on the University’s 2006 Men lacrosse as an action that moves the Hoax case into “a new world”

I agree.

Ekstrand’s brief on the students’ behalf absolutely rejects the Allen Building/Chronicle/MoveOn.Duke storyline which has Brodhead struggling in “a confusing time” when, as he told the late Ed Bradley during a 60 Minutes interview, “the facts kept changing.”

Ekstrand’s brief doesn’t make any “facts kept changing” claims or concessions. It asserts laws and procedures were ignored and violated by many.

And who were they?

They weren’t just those we’ve all come to agree did such things – Nifong, Gottlieb, Himan, Meehan, Addison, DPD supervisors, and Baker.

They included the most powerful and senior of Duke’s trustees and administrators who acted in cooperation with the maleficents I’ve just named.

Ekstrand calls the collective of Duke University officers led by BOT chair Robert Steel and president Richard Brodhead, Durham City and Durham Police personal led by city manager Patrick Baker and police chief Steve Chalmers, and others “the Consortium.”

He asserts they cooperated and conspired against his clients while acting to convince the public they were acting to promote a fair and legal criminal investigation.

Examples of what Ekstrand’s taling about:

He documents Duke’s responsibility for the investigation of Mangum’s lies based on NC Statue and DU/DPD common practice. Thus, DU’s Police Department began the investigation of Mangum’s lies and quickly concluded they were just that.

Enter BOT chair Bob Steel who, Ekstrand asserts, directed DUPD to cover-up its investigation and finding, and to cede “authority” to investigate to DPD.

Ekstrand’s brief’s a long read but extremely interesting.

It’s too bad our local news organizations - mainly the Raleigh N&O and the Durham H-S (The Chronicle won’t publish until after the New Year) – won’t press Duke even half as hard to explain what it did as they pressed for the cancellation of the lacrosse team’s season.

To the commenters who noted Steel directed an awful lot of Duke's response (no surprise) but pushed to turn over the case from DUPD to DPD, I’ll say this:

I'm surprised Steel get involved in that kind of act so directly that Ekstrand would be confident enough of what Steel did to name him in the brief as doing it.

One commenter said: "Uglier" and Dukier."


An alum friend asked offline what I thought of Bob Ekstrand?

Here’s part of my response:

Bob Ekstrand knows what he's doing.

He is, by virtue of training and experience, IMO, one of the best, if not the best, attorneys this second 3 could have retained.

Bob knows Duke, Durham and "the street."

He knows the relevant past - eg. Gottlieb's treatment of Duke students compared to their treatment by other DPD officers.

And he knows the people who know Gottlieb has abused Dukies and those in Durham who supported what Gottlieb did.

So he knows where to go to find witnesses to support what he’s saying; and he knows who to subpoena to expose how Gottlieb was able to do a lot of what he did before and during the Hoax.
I think that fits with what a lot of the commenters have been saying.

Also this from another email I sent today to let some folks know what I was seeing here in Durham:
Concerning reaction here to Ekstrand's suit: if I were to lump everything I've heard from people at Duke, attorneys here and others who are following the case closely, it would come out as an attitude shift by those people in the direction of seeing the case as "uglier and Dukier."

I haven't talked with anyone who hasn't been moved in that direction.

Even MoveOn.Duke folks are saying things like, "This is something Duke's going to have to deal with," and they don't mean the suit itself.

They mean matters Ekstrand stated in his filing.

Sometimes they acknowledge that explicitly but always its apparent in their tone of voice and body language.

And something else: I've said to just about everyone I've talked to something like this: "If just half of what's being claimed in that filing is right, it's much worse than we thought."

No one's disagreed with that, and everyone has come back with an add-on type comment.

And finally something else: I've said to most people something like: "As I was reading the filing, I kept asking myself: ‘Where was Duke’s counsel's office during all of this?’"

To a person, everyone's come back with something like: "Well, if you were doing what they were doing at Duke, you wouldn't want the counsel's office involved."
Folks, I’m sorry this isn’t better organized.

But I’ll stand with it.

Now it’s your turn.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Churchill Series – Dec. 20, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

The recent two post series which included a look at why Britain failed to adequately rearm in the face of the growing Nazi threat brought us face-to-face with Neville Chamberlain and his genuine belief that he could appease Hitler and assure “peace in our time.”

If you’re convinced you can appease a Hitler or some other terrorist ideologue, the last thing you want to do is make yourself strong. That only upsets terrorists.

That’s said by way of introducing excerpts from a column Chris Patton, someone knew to me, wrote a few days after the July 7, 2005 London tube and bus bombings. His column title asked: “Is Britain the Land of Churchill or Chamberlain?”

It began:

To anyone with a gram-and-a-half of common sense and an equal dose of respect for innocent human life, the recent mass murder in London’s subway system should have come as no surprise.

The United Kingdom has for far too long been a hotbed of Islamist terror cells, with too many Brits believing their tolerance would save them from this kind of evil destruction. History teaches another lesson.

The stark contrast of Great Britain’s pre-World War II prime minister, the cowardly Neville Chamberlain, with his successor, the courageous Winston Churchill, has inspired analysis for the past seven decades.

Chamberlain’s name has almost become synonymous with capitulation, in much the same way the name Benedict Arnold has become tantamount to betrayal. . . .

Chamberlain thought he could negotiate with Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, just as liberals in the U.S. and Britain believe they can make nice today with Islamic extremists bent on destroying Western Civilization. …

Americans understand all too well the agony of those who lost loved ones in the London bombings. There are no words of consolation for those whose husband, wife, son or daughter simply disappears, as so many did on September 11, 2001. But as the British people, whose current prime minister, Tony Blair, has been a stalwart U.S. ally in Iraq, pick up the pieces of the worst public act of terrorism in that nation’s history, they have a choice to make.

The initial signs are that the spirit of Winston Churchill, the cigar-chomping bulldog who took the British people through one of the darkest times in world history, is alive and well. Let us hope that remains true, for the ghost of Neville Chamberlain is always lurking in the cowardice of people who refuse to confront evil.
Without the spirit of Winston Churchill we will not subdue the latest terrorist threat to Western civilization. The 1930s and 40s teach us that.

We must never forget.

Patton’s entire column is here.

Note to JinC Regulars & Commenters


Terrific comments coming in these past few days that I want to respond to later this evening.

Right now I've got to do other things or you'll be reading these headlines:

Blogger's wife claims his failure to do shopping and get haircut drove her to act.

Thanks Raleigh N&O for "outpouring of support."
See you later.


The N&O's Duke Hoax Role

On Apr. 11, 2007 North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper declared three former Duke students innocent of all charges brought against them by a Durham grand jury. He said there was never any credible evidence of their guilt.

Yet on Mar. 27, 2006 when Durham DA Mike Nifong first spoke publicly about the case, tens of millions of Americans were already convinced three white members of the 2006 Duke lacrosse team had brutally beaten and gang-raped a young black mother hired to dance at a team party.

They were also convinced the rest of the team were heavy drinking, rowdy, privileged whites who’d formed a “wall of silence” and refused to cooperate with police in order to protect their gang-rapist teammates.

But with no credible evidence of any crimes, how did so many people come to believe such elaborate and vicious falsehoods?

And wasn’t it Nifong who made-up and peddled those falsehoods?

In that case, how could millions have been hoaxed before Nifong had even started speaking publicly?

To answer those questions and others related to the Hoax, we must understand the Raleigh N&O’s enormously important role in launching and sustaining what was then called “the Duke lacrosse rape scandal.”

The following excerpt is from a July 2006 JinC post:

We now know that the three Duke lacrosse captains who rented the house at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. voluntarily gave the police statements; submitted to “rape kit” testing; offered to take lie detector tests; and even helped police identify and locate others who were at the party.

But the Raleigh News & Observer’s Mar. 24 story reporting the lacrosse players had submitted to DNA testing - the story the N&O says “broke” the Duke lacrosse case - made no mention of the captains’ cooperation.

The N&O's Mar. 25 front-page, hugely sympathetic, anonymous “victim” interview story also said nothing about the captains’ cooperation. In fact, the N&O told readers authorities had "vowed to crack the team's wall of solidarity."

The N&O followed that with a statement that it granted anonymity to “victims of sex crimes," dispensing altogether with any qualifying “alleged," just as, in its Mar. 24 story, it said seven times the woman was "the victim" or used the possessive "the victim's," never qualifying any of the seven with “alleged.”

The N&O's Mar. 24 and 25 stories captured the nation's attention. People bought into their portrayal of the accuser as a hard working student and mother who was brutally gang-raped, beaten and strangled as she sought to earn money to support her two small children.

They also bought into the N&O’s portrayal of the Duke students as her victimizers who were even then refusing to cooperate with police.

The N&O’s reporting in those and similarly biased and inflammatory stories it published the next few days so poisoned the public’s mind that when Ruth Sheehan's Mar. 27 N&O column ("Teams' silence is sickening") appeared, it was seen by many people as a righteous expression of "community outrage," instead of what we now know it to have been: a McCarthyite screed attacking the students for doing nothing more than following the advice of their counsels.[…]
When Nifong spoke publicly on Mar. 27 he was adhering to a fraudulent “storyline” already scripted and published by the Raleigh N&O.

It was the N&O, not Nifong, which first inflamed the public with falsehoods that sustained “the Duke lacrosse rape case” for more than a year.

And contrary to the myth hyped by its apologists, the N&O did not “correct its initial mistakes within a few days.”

In many cases, the N&O compounded them to the disadvantage of the Duke lacrosse players who only wanted the public to learn the truth of what happened on the night of Mar. 13/14.

For example, the N&O withheld for weeks information it had on the accuser’s criminal background. That information directly contradicted claims the N&O reported in its Mar. 25 story. The information was exculpatory for the lacrosse players.

Much worse, the N&O withheld for thirteen months statements the accuser made to N&O reporter Samiha Khanna on Mar. 24 which were also exculpatory for the players. You can read about them here in an Apr. 12, 2007 N&O story in which the N&O, for the first time, disclosed them to readers and other news organizations.

And yes, Apr. 12, was the day after AG Cooper had declared the three young men innocent.

But the Apr. 12 story wasn’t the N&O’s “last word” on its now discredited Mar. 25, 2006 story

This past Sunday N&O executive editor for news John Drescher, referring to the Mar. 25 story, told readers:
"I wish we had held that story for a day and done more reporting on the accuser, her statement and her prior run-in with the law."
While some will react to Drescher’s concession with “tail wagging,” sensible people will ask questions:

If failure to hold "that story for a day" was the reason for the N&O’s disgraceful Mar. 25 story's errors, why weren’t they corrected within a day or two of publication?

Why are we only now getting this concession twenty-one months after the N&O published what it had to know at the time was in many respects a deliberately fraudulent story?

And what about Ruth Sheehan’s statements reported this year in the Yeager/Pressler book It’s Not About The Truth?

Sheehan now says she wrote her Mar. 27 “Team’s Silence Is Sickening” column based on information N&O staffers told her they’d gotten from Nifong.

Mike Nifong an anonymous source for Sheehan’s column?

Dreacher’s said nothing about that. Why not?

If the N&O's coverage of the case was satisfactory after a few days what are we to make of its publication on Apr. 2 of the "Vigilante" poster and on Apr. 9 the "Swagger" story and on Apr. 16 the "Mother, dancer, accuser" story?

And yes, Apr. 16, 2006 was the day before the Durham grand jury voted to indict Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann.

I hope you agree we need to expose the myths that have grown up around the N&O's Hoax coverage.

We need to compare what the N&O told us “back then” with what we’ve subsequently learned it knew at the time and withheld from us.

We need to take a looK at what the N&O published with bias and a play to the "race/class/gender" crowd. The N&O publication of tax value of the Seligmann's home, for instance.

I’m planning a series of posts for January and February that aims to do those things and more.

Tomorrow I want to tell you about the series.

I hope you’ll come back and read the post: A New Look At The N&O’s Hoax Coverage.

Gottlieb Faces Sexual Harassment Charge

In today’s Durham Herald Sun under Brianne Dopart’s byline:

A key figure in the bogus Duke lacrosse rape case has been targeted in a sexual harassment investigation stemming from an incident involving another officer, The Herald-Sun has learned.

Sources tell The Herald-Sun that Sgt. Mark Gottlieb has returned to work since being placed on administrative leave after he allegedly made sexually suggestive comments to a female officer.

The alleged sexual harassment occurred in November when Gottlieb, who was once the senior investigator presiding over the now-defunct Duke lacrosse case, allegedly made statements of a sexual nature to a female officer in the presence of several other officers.

He was sent home the same day and placed on administrative leave, sources said.

Reached by telephone Monday, Gottlieb refused to comment and hung up. . . .

Contacted by The Herald-Sun on Wednesday, Chief Jose Lopez said he would not discuss the allegations.

"At this point in time we're conducting an investigation. We're conducting many investigations into various allegations, and I'm not going to say which is about what," Lopez said.

Attempts to reach City Manager Patrick Baker were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Baker told The Herald-Sun that he could not confirm anything regarding Gottlieb's status as an officer, but that Gottlieb's employment status would change in the near future.

Sources say Gottlieb is being pushed to take a medical leave from the department. (emphasis mine)

The former investigator's integrity has come into question before.

He is named as one of a long list of defendants in the 155-page lawsuit filed against the city this fall by attorneys for the exonerated Duke lacrosse players. Gottlieb is accused of conspiring to hide DNA evidence and creating a photo lineup that went against department policy because it was loaded only with lacrosse players, and did not include people who would be an incorrect selection as a suspect.

He also is named in a lawsuit filed this week by three unindicted Duke lacrosse players whose suit contends he "undertook to breathe life into the dead rape case by constructing a myth" as the investigation was unraveling. . . .
There’s more to the H-S story which you can read here.


If in fact Gottlieb is being pressured to take medical leave, why is that?

Do his DPD supervisors believe he’s an accident waiting to happen? Again!

Is it because he’s such a huge embarrassment to DPD it can’t any longer explain away his conduct without bring more public scorn down on itself? So get him on medical leave. That way DPD won’t have to explain why he’s still doing any kind of work at DPD.

But isn’t it time Chief Lopez, who promised to set things right at DPD, ordered an Internal Affairs investigation to determine whether Gottlieb is the kind of person DPD wants to give a gun, badge and the power to pursue and arrest?

Is anyone on the city council going to ask city manager Patrick Baker whether he’s satisfied Gottlieb is a DPD officer?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Churchill Series – Dec. 19, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

This is the second of a two-part series. The first post here outlined some of the reasons why it was relatively easy for Hitler to convince the German people they should rearm.

Today’s post looks at why it was so difficult for Churchill and others to convince Britain to rearm during as the Nazi menace grew.

Historians agree the German people were resentful of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles imposed on them and angry at the failure of the Weimar democratic governments to control inflation and restore the economy. Resentful and seeing themselves as weak, they were "an easy mark” for someone like Hitler and his rearmament policies

In Britain the situation was different. It was one of WW I’s “winners” but at a terrible price summarized in the phrase Briton’s used to describe their war dead: “the lost generation.” As “winners” who’d never-the-less lost a generation, the British people were determined to preserve what they had and avoid losing another generation.

Also, during the 20s and 30s Britain, while suffering serious economic downturns, was far more economically strong and politically stable than Germany

So appeasement, with it’s promise that by accommodation with Hitler another terrible war could be avoided, had great appeal to most, but no means all, Britons.

In Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill To Power And Helped Save England author Lynne Olson points to another reason Churchill was frustrated in his efforts to convince Britain to rearm: the opposition of Neville Chamberlain, first while he served as chancellor of the exchequer during Stanley Baldwin’s premiership and then as prime minister when he succeeded Baldwin:

Determined to save England and the rest of the world from another conflagration, Chamberlain would listen to no one who disagreed with him about how that was to be done [once he became prime minister in May 1937.] …

“I am myself a man of peace to the depths of my soul,” he later declared. “Armed conflict between nations is a nightmare to me.” …
Olson then provides a psychologically insightful quote from another author who studied Britain’s reluctance to rearm:
"A boxer cannot work himself into a proper psychological and physical condition for a fight that he seriously believes will never come off. It was the same with England,” John F. Kennedy wrote in Why England Slept, his 1940 study of British appeasement.

Who’s Defendant Allison Haltom?

Via a paste at Liestoppers you can read the following excerpt from the suit filed yesterday in federal court on behalf of three unindicted members of Duke’s lacrosse team. After reading the excerpt, you may want to know more about Allison Haltom who's not been mentioned much in connection with the Hoax. I provide some information about her after the excerpt and offer commentary.

Here’s the excerpt:

B. The CMT’S Acts in Furtherance of the Conspiracy

414. On or before March 25, 2006, Defendant Steel directed Defendant Brodhead to create a Crisis Management Team (“CMT”) to manage the University’s actions relating to the investigation of Mangum’s claims.

The original participants in the CMT were Defendants [BOT chair] Steel, [president] Brodhead, [Provost] Lange, [VP] Trask, [VP] Burness, and [VP] Moneta. Defendant Victor J. Dzau (Chancellor for Health Affairs, and President and CEO of Duke University Health Systems, Inc.) was added to the CMT shortly after it became clear that DUHS and Tara Levicy were critical to the State’s case.

Defendant Allison Halton (sic) (the University’s Secretary) was also added to the CMT following its first meeting on March 25, 2006
When people at Duke see University Secretary Haltom’s involved, they usually think “trustee involvement".

Haltom’s retiring at the end of this month after almost 40 years at Duke. Here’s part of a Duke News story on her recent retirement celebration :
. . . At a retirement party for her Tuesday, President Richard H. Brodhead listed her many Duke roles and concluded, “I learned today that you did nursing admissions. What have you not done?". . .
Haltom served under four presidents. As university secretary, she ensured members of the Board of Trustees were kept abreast of university issues and oversaw presidential transitions. In 2001, she took over the duties of university marshal, which include the operations of major university ceremonies such as commencement. ...
This excerpt from a Dec. 10, 2007 Chronicle story on her retirement:
As University secretary, Haltom manages the activities of the Board of Trustees, serves as the University marshal-which oversees major ceremonies like commencement-and has either chaired or served on most hiring committees for the University's senior officials, including the search committee for President Richard Brodhead.

"She makes the trains run on time," said John Burness, senior vice president for government affairs and public relations, whom Haltom considers one of her best friends. "Whoever is the University secretary has the inevitable position of both working for the President and working for the Board.... We're loaded with big thinkers, and if you don't have someone in the group who pays attention to the details, the logistics of managing 40-odd people [on the Board] will not get done."

When she retires, the majority of Haltom's responsibilities will be divided between Richard Riddell, special assistant to the president, who will handle the larger duties dealing with the Board, and Laura Eastwood, the current associate University secretary, who will handle many of the day-to-day communications with Trustees.

"The University is splitting Allison's position into two jobs because they don't believe one person can do it," Burness said. "What happens sometimes is you find really competent people like Allison who can juggle many different responsibilities and end up with them because they are so damn good at it. And then when they leave, you realize that the responsibilities are more than one person can handle.". . .
There’s no word yet on whether Riddell will take Haltom’s place on the CMT or whether Duke will go outside the University for her replacement and select someone like Durham city manager Patrick Baker.

(C’mon, John, get serious.)


Adding Haltom to the CMT suggests Steel and the others knew in March 2006 it would be a long haul and that trustees would rightly have many questions and want to be kept informed as things developed.

Steel, Brodhead, and the others no doubt could and did communicate with certain key trustees. Holtom no doubt was liaison for the rest.

It’s safe to say within the CMT group she was not a decision maker.

But Haltom knows what went on; and she was surely the bearer to the CMT of many suggestions, concerns and questions from trustees and knows how the CMT reacted to them.

You can realize how important Haltom’s inside knowledge can be to helping courts and the public understand what the key Duke decisions makers did when they were outside the public spotlight as well as what the functioning of the BOT was like as the Hoax played out.

Allison Haltom's a name to remember.

Here are the Duke News and Chronicle stories in full.

Local Coverage of Latest Suit

Let’s take a quick look at local media coverage of the suits filed yesterday in federal court, Greensboro, NC, on behalf of three Duke students and lacrosse players not indicted during the frame-up attempt.

Only WRAL/ABC Eyewitness News 11 reports on this matter which I know will interest all of you:

Sources tell Eyewitness News this is the first of two lawsuits expected to be filed on behalf of unindicted Duke Lacrosse players and their families.

Sources say a majority of the players that are represented by a law firm in Washington D.C. intend to file a lawsuit as well.
My sources tell me the same thing.

The suit News 11 mentions is the one I’ve previously mentioned; not the one filed yesterday.

News 14 Carolina has a brief story which includes:
Robert Ekstrand, who is representing Archer, McFadyen and Wilson, says the way the University and city handled the case caused the boys emotional distress, and listed that as just one of 35 reasons that they brought the lawsuit.

McFadyen was suspended from Duke a month after the party when an e-mail he wrote to other lacrosse players surfaced. In that e-mail, he talked about killing the stripper and cutting her skin off. McFadyen said the e-mail was in jest and mirrored some of the language in the movie, “American Psycho,” a movie that was popular with many of the players.
News 14 doesn’t mention Ekstrand’s filing states Duke officials who suspended McFadyen over the email’s content could have learned from any English Department member that “American Psycho” is assigned in a number of Duke courses. The other three local news organizations mentioned here don’t either.

All four news organizations also fail to report the filing states unequivocally that Duke President Richard Brodhead spoke with the press about aspects of McFayden’s case that required a privacy waiver from him; but McFadyen hadn’t signed one.

Our two local daily newspapers – the Durham Herald-Sun and the Raleigh News & Observer – give the story very different treatment.

It’s the H-S’s lead story across the front-page and above the fold; the N&O has a tag on it’s front page and runs the story on page 4 of the “B” section.

The N&O’s sure come a long way from the days when it would run on its front-page the names of Duke lacrosse players charged with carrying open beer cans.

What changed? I can't wait for the N&O to tell us.

Anne Blythe, one of the two reporters of the Mar. 24 and 25, 2006 N&O stories which did so much to poison the public’s mind against the Duke students, reports on the filing in a story which begins:
Three players not charged in the infamous Duke lacrosse case filed a lawsuit against Duke University, top administrators, fallen prosecutor Mike Nifong, the city and a long list of others. . . .

The players have listed dozens -- from such high-ranking Duke officials as President Richard Brodhead down to a public spokeswoman for the Durham police department -- as defendants in the suit.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, Duke University described the lawsuit as "another unfortunate result of the misdeeds" of Nifong.

"(T)his suit is misdirected against the university. Duke University reasonably relied on the statements of a prosecutor whose path of destruction could be stopped only by the North Carolina Attorney General," David Jarmul, a Duke spokesman, said in the statement. "Duke made some mistakes when the allegations first surfaced in the spring of 2006. The cause of any harm felt by the players, however, clearly lies with parties other than Duke."

In effort to avoid putting the entire community through destructive litigation, Jarmul said in the statement, Duke offered many months ago to reimburse attorneys' fees and other out-of-pocket expenses to the unindicted players whose lives were disrupted.

"We were and remain disappointed those offers were not accepted." the statement said. "We will aggressively defend the university in this matter."

McFadyen was suspended from Duke in April 2006 after an e-mail he wrote appeared in a search warrant in the Duke lacrosse case. . . .
Most of the rest of Blythe’s story is outline summary of other suits filed in the Hoax case.

Far and away the best local reporting today comes from Ray Gronberg in the H-S. I read the entire filing yesterday and into today’s first hours. Gronberg appears to have read it as well. He provides a good overview of the filing’s content along with important background information. Here’s a sample:
The players' claims rested heavily on Ekstrand's argument that the Duke University Police Department should have taken the lead in investigating the lacrosse case because it stemmed from an incident at a Duke-owned house at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd.

Ekstrand noted that city and Duke officials in 2004 had signed a cooperation agreement assigning Duke police the "primary responsibility" to initiate and conclude investigations on Duke property.

The significance of that agreement is certain to be a major point of contention, as state law specifies that Durham police have jurisdiction throughout the city, including on the Duke campus and at off-campus Duke properties.

But it also set the stage for a number of new allegations, among them the claim that Duke police actually launched their own investigation of the stripper's charges soon after she made them on March 14, 2006. Duke police abandoned the probe two days later, a major setback for the players, because campus officers on the scene realized the stripper's charges were bogus, Ekstrand and his clients alleged.

They further alleged that Duke and city leaders conspired and lied to cover up the early involvement of Duke police, and that Duke officials violated federal privacy law in the course of serving up information about the players to Durham police. . . .
I'll be back with more later today.

What are your thoughts about all this?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Churchill Series - Dec. 18, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

As you read this post I know you'll smile. I also wonder how many of you will recognize it and tell yourselves: "John posted this back in Oct. 2006. I bet he's reposting it because he's worked today on the latest Duke lacrosse suit filing, and hasn't had time to do the series post he'd planned."

If that's what you're telling yourselves, you're right.

Thanks for your understanding.

Now, on with the post.

The barbs went back and forth during Churchill’s public life. Remember this well known one he tossed at Labour Party leader, Clement Attlee: “A very humble man with much to be humble about?"

Here are a few less known ones:

Of Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald he said: "He has the gift of compressing the largest number of words into the smallest amount of thought."

About Lawrence of Arabia: "He had the art of backing uneasily into the limelight"?

Churchill often got as good as he gave.

About Churchill's history of the First World War a political opponent, Sir Samual Hoare, said: "Winston's written an enormous book all about himself and called it "The World Crisis."

I hope you’re back tomorrow.


The Attlee quote is from memory. The other three are found here at the Churchill Centre

Delay on N&O Post

I promised a post today explaining why it's essential for people seeking to understand the Duke Hoax to understand the Raleigh N&O's critical role in launching and sustaining the Hoax.

I didn't get that done today because I spent a lot of time getting background information on the suit filed today in federal court by three unindicted members of the 2006 Duke lacrosse team. You can read more about the suit in this Durham Herald Sun story.

The suit filing is more than 400 pages. I've been wading through it. I'm almost at 300 and will go to bed as soon as I reach that number.

More about the suit tomorrow when I'll have the N&O post up too. It's almost finished.

BTW - I've mentioned a suit that was coming. Today's is not the one I've talked about.

But that one will come.

It's not time yet to buy a MoveOn.Duke bumper sticker.

I'll bet most of you knew that without my saying it.

We don't yet know the half of it.

Thanks for your understanding.


Laura Bush & Saudi Women’s Rights

Via an excerpt from Kathleen Parker’s most recent column followed by a few comments:

Saudi King Abdullah's pardon of the young woman known as "Qatif Girl" -- who was gang-raped and then sentenced to 200 lashes and six months imprisonment for "improper mingling" -- is welcome news. (For my take on that instance of Muslim religious persecustion see this post.)

With something less than gratitude -- how does one feel grateful for mercy when none should have been required in the first place? -- Westerners are nonetheless relieved.

It seems obvious that the king's decision was influenced in part by pressures both from the international community, including the United States, and within Saudi Arabia, where some writers and others bravely expressed outrage and embarrassment.

I would like to propose another possible factor less easily assessed -- first lady Laura Bush's October journey to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries to promote breast cancer awareness, research and treatment.

In Saudi Arabia, the first lady met with the king and his wife Princess Hessa as Mrs. Bush launched the Saudi portion of the U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research. Other participating countries include Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

The trip, while officially aimed at improving women's health (an acceptable and "safe" first-lady enterprise), was in fact a brilliant diplomatic maneuver in the arena of women's rights. Here's why:

In Saudi Arabia, where women's participation in society is severely limited -- no driving, no voting, no mixing with unrelated men -- it's not so easy to directly address women's rights. You can't just say to the king, "You know, Abdullah, you really should let women vote and drive and mingle with men anytime they want to."

He should, of course, but that's none of our concern, from the palace perspective. Moreover, external conversion doesn't work very well, we've noticed.

What one can do in Saudi Arabia is talk indirectly about less controversial issues such as women's health. Who isn't for good health? The Wahhabi branch of Islam that informs Saudi government and social policy may mean that women can't wear miniskirts in the public square, but clerics haven't yet said: Women deserve to die of breast cancer.

Even so, women's health has suffered as a byproduct of the very laws that restrict them in the broader society. Thus, health is a women's rights issue. A discussion about breast cancer in Saudi Arabia is a discussion about women's
Parker goes on to describe several ways religious beliefs thwart women’s health. Her column is here.

I hope you read it and comment.

Parker was one of the first pundits to see through Mangum’s and Nifong’s lies.

When I have some quiet time I’ll post links to a few of her columns from Spring 2006.Better yet, I’ll put together a tribute post.

And speaking of tributes: I have a lot of respect for Laura Bush. She’s been a wonderful first lady.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Churchill Series – Dec. 17, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Today starts a two-part series that takes an “outline look” at why it was so easy for Hitler to convince the German people their nation should rearm, and so difficult for Churchill to convince the British people and government they should do likewise.

As for Hitler and Germany, one author's written:

Before beginning any discussion of British rearmament, it is important to know what the psychology of the nation was at the commencement. Because of the inertia of human thought, nations, like individuals, change their ideas slowly.

In a Democracy, especially, where a majority must share the idea before it becomes part of the national viewpoint, it is necessary to study the fundamentals upon which the public's opinions are based.

In Germany's case, for example, the old ideas and beliefs were completely destroyed by the Treaty of Versailles and the post-war settlement. The subsequent inflation period of 1924 and the economic collapse of 1931 combined to make the German nation fertile ground for new ideas.

Hitler, therefore, found it easy to convince the people that their way back to the top in Europe was through national regimentation, based upon a policy of rearmament.
Those were the views expressed in 1940 by Harvard senior John F. Kennedy as he began his senior thesis, which was later published in book form as Why England Slept.

Kennedy's thesis received an Honors grade.

Amazon lists used hard cover copies of Why England Slept available for under $83 and paperbacks at $32 or less.

The availablilty of a rare first edition with original dustjacket is announced here. The page has a nice color photo of the book. Give it a look.

I hope you're back tomorrow when we'll hear again from the future President.

Nifong discovery: An N&O Worry?

At the bottom of a column mostly about mistakes other news outfits made, Raleigh News & Observer executive editor for news John Drescher said:

We felt that pressure during the Duke lacrosse case. We broke the news that 46 team members had been ordered to give DNA in a rape investigation.

The day we published that story, we had an interview -- the only one to date -- with the accuser. The next day, we published her account.

I wish we had held that story for a day and done more reporting on the accuser, her statement and her prior run-in with the law.

Many other times, we've held back when our competitors were using anonymous sources.
Why is Drescher saying that now?

It's twenty-one months since the N&O published the story he's referring to: the Mar. 25, 2006 Samiha Khanna/Anne Blythe "anonymous interview/sexual violence" story that withheld so much news exculpatory for the players.

I can't give you a definite answer to the "why now?" question. No doubt many factors went into the N&O's decision to do some row-backing on that story. I wouldn't even be surprised to learn there was some pre-publication discussion between the N&O and its parent organization, The McClatchy Company.

I also wouldn't be surprised to learn the N&O used then Durham DA Mike Nifong as an anonymous source for the story; and that a fear that within the next year or so its use of Nifong for that story will become public knowledge was a factor influencing Drescher's row-backing.

To understand why I wouldn't be surprised Nifong was an anonymous source for the Mar. 25 Khanna/Blythe story, I ask you to first read the following excerpt from a July 29, 2007 JinC post, Nifong an N&O anonymous source (Post 1), and then read an excerpt from the amended brief filed last week in Federal Court on behalf of the three former Duke students falsely indicted by a Durham grand jury.

After those two readings I think most of you will understand why I wouldn't be surprised to learn Nifong was a source for the N&O's Khanna/Blythe Mar. 25 story.

I'll end this post with a few comments.

From Nifong an Anonymous N&O Source (Post 1):

Now there's strong evidence that one of the anonymous sources the N&O used last March to publicly frame the lacrosse players was then DA Mike Nifong.

Recall that in front-page stories on March 24, 25, 26 and in a March 27 news column by Ruth Sheehan, the N&O laid out its deliberately fictional Duke lacrosse script about a frightened young black woman brutally beaten and gang-raped by privileged white male Duke lacrosse players. Their racist teammates had formed "a wall of solidarity" to prevent police from identifying their gang-rapist buddies.

Nifong’s never mentioned in any of those stories or Sheehan’s column.

But when Nifong first began speaking publicly about the case on the afternoon of March 27, he followed exactly the fictional script the N&O had been shilling to the public and the rest of the media for four days.

Now Sheehan admits that a major portion of the N&O's fictional script was provided to N&O journalists by Mike Nifong.

In fact, Sheehan says Nifong and “people” at the N&O who were in touch with him were the actual sources for her March 27 column attacking the players and demanding the lacrosse team be "shut down" until the players cooperated with police.

Don Yeager, in his recently released It's Not About the Truth (Threshold Editions, 2007), quotes Sheehan:
"I think on Saturday [March 25] we had the interview with the alleged victim. It was on Sunday I called into the office. I already had a column in the can because I run on Mondays.

But I called in about this story and they told me that there was another story with Nifong talking about how there was this wall of silence.

That's when I decided on that Sunday to write my first column about the case. [...]

I have to write a column about what people are talking about. And everybody was talking about it. It was so outrageous, the stuff that was in the paper. Her story, Nifong's recounting of it. Oh, my God. It was just like , . , you couldn't even believe it." (ellipses in Yeager) (pg. 154)
A little further on Yeager writes:
As she wrote, Sheehan made clear that in her mind the stories bubbling up from Nifong's office and the Durham Police Department were true. She was not alone. (pg. 155)
Yeager then tells readers Sheehan added:
"Back during that period, no one was telling us that the players had been cooperative," she said in a January 2007 interview. "I know now that was not true. If I had known that then, I would have never written what I did. I would have thought what is Nifong talking about? That's not a wall of silence then. How is that a wall of silence?"(pg. 155)
The N&O’s March 25 "anonymous interview" story refers to “authorities [who’ve] vowed to crack the team's wall of solidarity.”

It then continues: "We're asking someone from the lacrosse team to step forward," Durham police Cpl. David Addison said. "We will be relentless in finding out who committed this crime."

But neither that March 25 story nor any N&O Duke lacrosse story that appeared before March 28 mentions Nifong or some variant such as “the DA’s office said” as a news source.

No one at the N&O has challenged Sheehan's account of calling the paper on Sunday, March 26, and being told by journalists there details of what Nifong was providing the N&O.

In the N&O's recent report of Yeager’s book, staff writer Jim Nesbitt didn't even mention Sheehan’s account.

I posted on Nesbitt’s story here. I raised questions about why the N&O’s story said nothing about Yeager's reporting on Sheehan’s column or any other part of the N&O’s framing of the lacrosse players last March.

I emailed Nesbitt and asked why that was the case. I offered to publish his response in full.

I received no reply to my email or to phone messages I left for Nesbitt and other N&O staffers.

End of excerpt

Now let’s look at a portion of the amended brief recently filed in Federal Court, Greensboro on behalf of the three young men fraudulently indicted as part of the frame-up attempt.

Section E - Defendants’ Extrajudicial Efforts To Manufacture Indictments of the Three Innocent DukeLacrosse Players – lists

The False and Inflammatory Public Statements by Nifong and the Durham Police

Item 147 - Examples of Nifong’s false and malicious public statements include the following:
a. On or around March 24, 2006, Nifong accused the Duke lacrosse team of obstructing justice and erecting a “wall of silence.” (pg. 37 of the brief)

End of legal brief excerpt

Just because there's strong evidence Mike Nifong was the anonymous source for Sheehan's Mar. 27 column doesn't mean he was a source for the Mar. 25 story.

But can you see why I wouldn't be surprised to learn he was?

Let's all stay tuned. There's so much we don't know yet.

There's one thing we can all be sure of though: we've been told a lot of falsehoods by the N&O, some of them outright lies.

I'd love to hear your reactions to this post.

The N&O’s Baker Editorial (Updated)

The Raleigh News & Observer did more than any other news organization to help launch and sustain the massive injustices and falsehoods of the Duke lacrosse case

Friday, the N&O editorialized in response to the announcement that Patrick Baker, Durham’s city manager since August 2004, would be leaving that office to become Durham’s city attorney.

The N&O commended Baker for overseeing “improvements to the downtown and [for taking] the right approach to maintaining city infrastructure after years of neglect.”

It also allowed as how he’d made what it called “rookie mistakes.”

And what were those “rookie mistakes,” you ask?

Here’s everything the N&O said about them:

But a city yard waste plant operating without a state permit caught fire, and Durham residents face a potentially catastrophic water shortage because City Hall moved too slowly in managing water use.
What, no mention of all those Duke lacrosse travesties and injustices engaged in by certain Durham police officers?

Doesn’t Baker supervise DPD?

Yes, he does. And for more than 20 months Baker’s been denying there was any wrongdoing by a single DPD officer or any of their supervisors.

There’s something else you may be thinking: Only a few days before the N&O opined, Baker was named a defendant in a civil rights violation suit brought by the three young men who were the principal victims of the criminal frame-up attempt that was at the heart of the Duke Hoax.

But the N&O makes not a single mention of the Duke lacrosse case in connection with Baker.

It sure is strange, isn’t it?

Did the editors all just forget the Duke lacrosse case played out in Durham while Baker was city manager?

Or did the editors make a conscious decision to say nothing about the case?

If they did, why did they do that?

Whose interests did that serve?

The editorial is here.

Update on 12/17/07 @ 2 PM:

While researching this morning I came upon news stories which reminded me of one of Baker's "rookie mistakes."

Remember Ron Hodge, who was DPD's Deputy Police Chief throughout the Duke lacrosse case and in day-to-day charge of the department during that time?

Baker recommended Hodge as one of the three finalists to succeed DPD Chief Steve Chalmers.

Hodge remains Deputy Chief and we can continue to wonder why the N&O’s editorial made no mention of the Duke lacrosse case.

"Their fight is our fight"

(The time stamp on this post has been changed from 12/15 to 12/17 to give the post more current main page placement. JinC)

Most of the rest of this post is taken from one I published this past October.

One of the reasons I admire Hoover Institute fellow Thomas Sowell is because he so often writes things like the following:

Much was made of the fact that these Duke students came from affluent families. Lucky for them - and for us. Not everyone has an extra million dollars lying around to fight off false accusations. Their fight is our fight.

What you just read is the last paragraph of Sowell's column following NC Attorney General Roy Cooper’s finding that David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were “innocent.”

Can you imagine N&O editorial page editor Steve Ford, H-S editor Bob Ashley, Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, and Duke Professors Wahneema Lubiano and Orin Starn writing anything like that?

I can't. They’re too self-seeking and filled with envy.

None of them have the generosity of spirit, fairness and wisdom which led Sowell to conclude: “Their fight is our fight.”

Sowell's entire column is here. It's a "don't miss."

Hat tip: The Johnsville News

Muslim Religious Persecution & the West

Under the headline “Saudi King Pardons Rape Victim” the AP reports this morning [excerpts]:

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has pardoned a female rape victim who had been sentenced to 200 lashes for being alone with a man at the time of the attack who was not related to her, a Saudi newspaper reported Monday. . . .

Saudi Justice Minister Abdullah bin Mohammed al-Sheik told al-Jazirah newspaper that the pardon does not mean the king doubted the country's judges, but instead acted in the "interests of the people."

"The king always looks into alleviating the suffering of the citizens when he becomes sure that these verdicts will leave psychological effects on the convicted people, though he is convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair," al-Jazirah quoted al-Sheik as saying.

The victim in the case, known only as the "Girl of Qatif" after her hometown in eastern Saudi Arabia, was in a car with a high school friend in 2006 when they were attacked and raped by seven men.

She initially was sentenced in November 2006 to several months in prison and 90 lashes for being alone in a car with a man with whom she was neither related nor married, a violation of the kingdom's strict segregation of the sexes.

The woman, who was 19 at the time of the rape, has said she met the man to retrieve a picture of herself from him because she had recently married.

The court more than doubled the sentence last month to 200 lashes and six months prison in response to her appeal. . . .

The Justice Ministry has defended the sentence, saying the girl was having an illicit affair with the man.

Al-Sheik told al-Jazirah newspaper Monday that the king was the only official who could issue a pardon, and he did so despite the government's view that the Saudi legal system was "honest" and "fair." . . .
The young woman is a gang-rape victim and a victim of religious persecution.

The AP doesn’t use the term “gang-rape,” I suspect out of “sensitivity” for the feelings of the Saudi Arabian government and hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world, a good many of whom will no doubt wish King Abdullah had not pardoned the woman.

The AP also doesn't say the woman is a victim of religious persecution by the Saudi government.

But religious persecution properly describes what the “honest” and “fair” Suadi justice system did to her on behalf of the Muslim faith.

We rightly teach out children that those brought before the Inquisition were victims of religious persecution.

This woman is no less a victim of religious persecution.

In the Western-oriented democracies we need to have much greater concern for the victims of Islamic religious persecution – those victims being members of many nations and faiths, including Islam - and much greater condemnation of their Islamic persecutors.

But instead of that we’re more likely to hear from our leaders and media condemnations such as we heard recently from the Archbishop of Canterbury who condemned “American imperialism” and from NYT columnist Maureen Dowd who in Apr. 2005 wrote:
The white smoke yesterday signaled that the Vatican thinks what it needs to bring it into modernity is the oldest pope since the 18th century: Joseph Ratzinger, a 78-year-old hidebound archconservative who ran the office that used to be called the Inquisition and who once belonged to Hitler Youth.

For American Catholics - especially women and Democratic pro-choice Catholic pols - the cafeteria is officially closed. After all, Cardinal Ratzinger, nicknamed "God's Rottweiler" and "the Enforcer," helped deny Communion rights to John Kerry and other Catholic politicians in the 2004 election.
Message to the Archbishop of Canterbury: That “American imperialism” you condemn is the single most important force standing between the life you live today in a democracy and whatever life a Christian leader such as yourself whose spoken favorably of gays would have in an Islamic “republic.”

Message to Maureen Dowd: You get so much wrong in so few words. Others will point out a lot of what you got wrong.

I’ll just say two things:

One, as I bet you know, John Kerry and other pro-choice Catholic politicians weren’t denied “Communion rights.” Almost all American priests and bishops were willing to give communion to Kerry and others with similar views on abortion.

You’re engaging in a “victim hustle” a la Al Sharpton.

Two, the Pope isn’t a threat to American Catholics but Islamic fundamentalism sure is.

Questions for multiculturalists: Why don’t you abhor and condemn much of Islamic religious practices? Why don’t you call on Islamic religious leaders to repudiate the use of their religion to justify the crimes committed against the young woman by the gang-rapists, and the “honest” and “fair” Saudi government, the guardian of the Islamic holy places?

Message to readers: Your turn.

The entire AP story is here.

Maureen Dowd's column is here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What’s the N&O Saying?

The Raleigh News & Observer did more than any other news organization to help launch and sustain the massive injustices and falsehoods of the Duke lacrosse case.

In his column in today’s print edition ( "Rash Judgments Backfire" ) N&O executive editor for news John Drescher tells readers “competition has a downside [which for] journalists [is] trying to beat the competition with a story that isn't ready for publication.”

Drescher goes on to detail mistakes other newspapers have made rushing stories into print.

Finally, near the end of his column, he tells readers:

We felt that pressure during the Duke lacrosse case. We broke the news that 46 team members had been ordered to give DNA in a rape investigation.

The day we published that story, we had an interview -- the only one to date -- with the accuser. The next day, we published her account.

I wish we had held that story for a day and done more reporting on the accuser, her statement and her prior run-in with the law.

Many other times, we've held back when our competitors were using anonymous sources.
People familiar with both the Mar. 25, 2006 front-page story Drescher refers to,
Dancer gives details of ordeal

A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence,
and the facts available to the N&O at the time of publication continue to ask why the N&O published it.

The story by reporters Samiha Khanna and Anne Blythe stank like a sewer pit the day it was published. Today it has as much credibility as the news conferences Mike Nifong began giving two days after the Khanna/Blythe story appeared.

So what's the N&O saying today?

I think some people will nod and tell themselves something like: “The N&O was under deadline. Of course! That explains what happened. Why do those lacrosse people keep complaining and suing. It’s time to move on.”

And I feel sure sensible people will ask questions such as:

Why is Drescher only saying this now, twenty-one months after the N&O published the story?

Drescher says:
”I wish we had held that story for a day and done more reporting on the accuser, her statement and her prior run-in with the law.”

What stopped the N&O from doing “more reporting” the day after it published the story? Or the day after that which was Mar. 27, 2006, the first day Nifong began speaking publicly about the case?

Drescher doesn't say, does he?

The N&O had reported on Crystal Mangum’s “prior run-in with the law” in June 2002.

So how can “competitive pressure” explain reporters Samiha Khanna's and Anne Blythe’s failure to mention it in the “anonymous interview/sexual violence” story?

When and in what detail did the N&O first report on Mangum’s “run-in?”

Why didn’t Drescher tell us that, and explain the delay?

Why did the N&O withhold from its Mar. 25 story what it knew about the players’ cooperation with police?

Why did reporters Khanna and Blythe promulgate the falsehoods that the players had refused to cooperate with police and formed what the N&O said was a “wall of solidarity?”

I’m sure many of you have other questions. Please share them.

What do you think are the chances Drescher will answer your questions and mine fully and honestly?

I plan to post again tomorrow concerning Drescher’s statements today.

Also, as I said last Friday, I’ll be posting this Tuesday and Wednesday concerning why its essential we understand what the N&O did to launch and sustain the Duke Hoax’s awful injustices to individuals and harm to our community.

The Wednesday post will, as I mentioned Friday, include a brief outline of the 20-post series I’m preparing which will examine the N&O’s Duke Hoax coverage from its first report of an alleged rape at a house on N. Buchanan Blvd through the completion of N&O reporter Joe Neff’s series following NC AG Roy Cooper’s Apr. 11, 2007 announcement that David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were innocent.

Drescher's column is here.

Responding To Professor Munger

Readers Note: I recently posted Questions For Professor Munger.

Munger responded at his blog (not a Duke site) with Some Good Questions from JinC.

I published a copy of his post here at JinC. That JinC post contained links to previous posts in the series of usful exchanges with Munger, Chair and professor in the Political Science Department at Duke.

Before you read the following letter to Munger, I encourage you to read the posts linked above if you are not already familiar with them.


Dear Professor Munger:

I apologize to you and our readers for not responding before now to Some Good Questions from JinC.

Travel and other commitments cut into my blogging time.

I’ve re-read your Chronicle letter, my comment on its thread, and our subsequent posts and comments concerning them and issues related to them.

I affirm everything I said. I’m satisfied with “my case” and how I presented it. I don’t doubt you feel similarly about your part of our "conversation."

I disagree with some of your comments, including some of your characterizations of what I’ve said, what the evening was like and what you say are the conditions which obtain for discourse at Duke and other universities you call “elite.”

However, unless something new “pops up,” I propose we not go further into those comments; and hope that’s agreeable with you.

I’ve three reasons for my proposal.

First, all of what we disagree about are matters involving perceptions and interpretation about which reasonable people can disagree; and none of the disagreements concern, IMO, anything of lasting importance.

Second, Internet hyperlinks mean those who care to can examine what we’ve said and judge our differences for themselves.

Third, concerning the three most important issues we’ve discussed – 1)the need to balance a speaker's right of expression with another person’s right to protest the speaker; 2) the need for universities to assure various campus audiences have opportunities under satisfactory circumstances to hear diverse and controversial views; and 3) the disturbingly high level of intolerance exhibited at many campuses for certain speakers and views - we're in substantial agreement.

We’ve had useful exchanges with neither of us seeking the winner’s laurel.

Do you think we’re at a point where we can agree to “a wrap?”

In closing I’d like to mention what’s been for me “the high point” of our exchange.

It occurred when I followed the link to your "conversation" at the Blue NC blog during which you sought to dissuade people there contemplating engaging during Rove’s appearance in very disruptive acts.

I was extremely impressed by what you said to those people and your proposal to them which readers can read for themselves here.

I look forward to your reply.


John in Carolina