Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Duke Lax Frame: Like "The Mighty River"

(First posted 6/10/09)


If you’re above New Orleans standing on a levee beside “the mighty river,” and you say you’re looking at the Mississippi, no one will dispute you.

But if you say, “Imagine all this water coming from one lake in Minnesota,” most people will dispute you.

Sure, the Mississippi’s source is Minnesota’s Lake Itasca, but the Ohio joins it at Cairo, Illinois and the Missouri at St. Louis.

They’re just two of the Mississippi’s many great tributary rivers whose waters all pass the levees above New Orleans and flow on to the Gulf of Mexico.

I offer the foregoing, folks, because the Mississippi and its tributaries can serve us as a very useful metaphor when we think about and discuss the motivations or driving force behind what we’ve come to call the Duke lacrosse case.

Some people say the motivation or driving force for the trashing, endangerment and lying about the lacrosse team and the attempt to frame three of its members came from Mike Nifong, a rogue DA who had help from two rogue cops, DPD officers Sgt. Mark Gottlieb and Inv. Ben Himan.

That’s too simple.

Other people agree the motivation or driving force for the frame-up attempt – which required so much lying and violating of procedures and laws for which the framers knew they could be punished, as Nifong’s been somewhat - - came primarily from Nifong, Gottlieb and Himan.

But then they quickly add something like: “Of course, there were lots more helping them.”

Well, OK, but who? And when and why did they provide motivational force for the trashing and frame-up attempt?

For the most part I’m with those who say a great many contributed to the force for the trashing and frame-up attempt.

But just offering a list of names and saying, “Here, these,” doesn’t contribute much to our understanding of how and why certain individuals, acting for themselves, and in some circumstances acting on behalf of institutions of government, media and education, took part in a vicious trashing and frame-up attempt.

The metaphor of the Mississippi and its tributaries can help us avoid the overly simple “Nifong did it all” explanation and the overly broad “all of the above”

Think in your mind’s eye of the Mississippi River basin and consider where it’s many tributary rivers have their sources.

Examine where and how some of those rivers contribute to “the mighty river” which flows by the levees above New Orleans.

Then think about the Duke lacrosse case.

We know Nifong was a mighty contributor to it. But was he it’s source as Lake Itaska is the Mississippi’s?

Or did Nifong perhaps not begin making his contribution until the trashing and frame-up attempt were “down river?”

A “yes” answer to that question will tempt many people to think the source of the frame-up must then be DPD.

Perhaps it is; perhaps it’s not.

If you buy Joe Neff and the Raleigh N&O’s Apr. 2007 story that Nifong only learned of the lacrosse case on Mar. 23, 2006 after the NTO was signed;

and you agree that a reading of the NTO leaves no doubt a frame-up attempt was underway by Mar. 23– something I believe;

then you have to say Nifong isn’t the source of the frame-up attempt;

and that he is instead a very powerful tributary to it.

If not Nifong as the frame-up source, then who?

Here once more the Mississippi River metaphor is useful.

Waters that have their sources in both the Rockies and the Appalachians flow into the Mississippi.

Thinking about that helps me keep in mind that the force for the trashing and frame-up could have come simultaneously from different individuals and organizations.

I won’t say more because I’m confident the great majority of you see the usefulness of a metaphor like the Mississippi and its tributaries for considering how individuals and organizations came to engage in investigative travesties and, I believe, a good deal of criminal conduct in the Duke lacrosse case.

Hat tips to all the recent commenters whose informed and questioning commentaries were "the source" of my motivation for writing this post.




sceptical said...

Excellent nad apt analogy.

To frame lacrosse players for a rape that never happened served the interests of many parties-- police who hated Duke students, citizens of Durham who resented Duke, Trinity Park residents who did not like their student neighbors, Duke leftist faculty and students who needed an incident to peddle their ideology,
Duke administrators who wanted to demonstrate their political correctness, people who were jealous of athletes and athletics at Duke, media looking for an easy story combining sex, race, and athletes, race peddlers such as Sharpton, Jackson and the NBPP, and a DA who was losing in the polls and who was going to lose his salary and pension increase, among others.

A major question is was there a true conspiracy, as Ekstrand suggests with the Consortium notion in his civil suit, or was there just a convergence of interests?

I think the important message to get out to the world is that IT WAS NOT JUST NIFONG! The general public believes that Nifong and perhaps the media were responsible for the frame-up, but are not aware of the role of the Durham PD, Duke University officials, and Durham city officials in the attempt.

Anonymous said...

You maybe right, John. The one question remaining is WHY so many tributaries wanted to frame the Duke LAX players. My take is that there was one force behind the whole frame and very quickly everyone else fell in line for their own reasons. I would use the example of a great glacier melting to form a river. This glacier is blocking all flows of other water into its own formed stream. Once the glacier starts melting, it then lets, in a sequential manner, all the other waterways and tributaries to add to the volume of the melting glaciers water.

There is once person who initiated this frame and very quickly everyone else fell in line to make the frame part of them. And just like the little tributaries may not know that a glacier started the flow of water, all of the players in the frame may not have known who started the frame. It could be Cy, or Bell or Baker or whomever one wishes to guess. But it was not who may appear to be the obvious one. We forget that during the night of the event, the police said it was a crock. Some glacier picked up on that conclusion and for selfish reasons created enough heat to make all the others believe they needed to join in to make the river big for their own personal reasons.

We have an election approaching. We have parties in Trinity Park that need to be stopped. We have vengeful police officers who hate Duke. We have a mayor who wants things from Duke. We have a rookie Investigator wanting to make headlines for himself. We have a stripper who can be talked into anything. We have a lot of tributaries, but only one headwater. We have all the why's now. We still need the melting glacier.

Anonymous said...

8:56 - We cannot forget Tara Levicy and her feminist agenda driven contributions. Steve in New Mexico

inmyhumbleopinion said...

Who "owns" that "toxic" NTO?

What's the big mystery? According to Gottlieb's notes it was his idea. He ran it by Durham Police Attorney Toni Smith. Gottlieb sent Himan to the DA's office. "The district attorney's office thought it was a good idea." ADA Tracy Cline "asked him to draw it up." Gottlieb and Himan did. ADA Cline was unavailable the next morning (IIRC she was in court that morning). ADA Saacks said the "police -- and not anyone in the DA's office -- drafted the order." Saacks "made only one change to the draft."

Cline denied that she had any role in writing the order. She said she "didn't prepare any paperwork on that case. Nothing at all. I've never even seen or laid hands on a non-testimonial order." Cline's "I don't recall,"[whether she'd asked police to draft the non-testimonial order], may be a stretch, but has anyone disputed the facts as stated above? It sounds like Gottlieb sent Himan to the DA's office for approval as opposed to the DA's office contacting them to hand down a directive.

As most here have noted, Saacks signed it and presented it to the judge, he owns it. I'd say Gottlieb was the one who conceived it. If the questionable NTO is evidence of a conspiracy, police investigators and ADA's enter into conspiracies often.

Anonymous said...

I agree with skeptical that the Mississippi River analogy is very apt. However, like the little rivulet that turns into a stream, then to a creek, etc., the waters when they begin do not know that they will eventually become a part of the great Mississippi.
The starting point in all this is Crystal Mangum. Had she not falsely claimed that she was raped, there would have been nothing more than a party at 610 Buchanan - perhaps it would have gotten noisy, or there would have been neighbors upset with drinking and the police would have been called - but the most that would have happened is that the police would have done their usual thing of sticking it to the Duke students by issuing citations and/or hauling them down to the jail for contributing to the delinquency of minors (and yes, I will stipulate that the unfairness in the way that the DPD treated Duke students as opposed to townies doing the exact same thing is an issue which played a role in what later happened).
So Crystal and her claims were then fed, much as a stream is fed, by other currents of water which happened to be in the vicinity. We have Gottlieb who was smarting from being pulled from his Duke beat. We have Tara Levicy, a feminist who believes that any woman who cries rape is in fact a rape victim, with a client who she can promote. We have a faculty at a college who resent the culture of athletics, the sense of privilege that they perceive is the mindset of white, northern, upper middle class males. We have a neighborhood who resent their student neighbors. We have an administration that wants to demonstrate how "pc" it is. We have a media who sees a story that will satisfy the need to fill the airwaves 24/7 drawing in the needed revenues that such a story will provide. And then of course, is the mightiest tributary of them all - Mike Nifong - a two bit prosecutor who needed a win to ensure a substantial pension. But, at the beginning and at the end, one has to say that but for one Crystal Mangum, none of this would have happened.

Anonymous said...

The basic flaw in North Carolina criminal law was exploited by Gottlieb and Himan. Being able to tell bare-faced lies to a grand jury in order to obtain indictments enabled the two extremely dirty Durham cops to game the system without fear of being caught because there is no record of the GJ proceedings. The lie was told, the indictments obtained, and nobody can be identified as lying to the jury. And today, even knowing that the grand jury "secrecy" rule is a weakness, not a strength, there are no senators or representatives in Raleigh doing a thing to change the system. This chink in the people's armor allows the good ol' boys to continue their careers indicting and prosecuting anyone and everyone who comes up on their radar. A change in NC law would at least divert this mighty river and level the playing field.
Tarheel Hawkeye