Friday, September 15, 2006

The Churchill Series - Sept. 15, 2006

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

In 1911 Churchill, along with his closest friend, F. E. Smith, founded The Other Club.

The club’s by-laws stated its purpose: “To dine.” Every two weeks when Parliament was in session, the club met for a convivial evening.

Its membership usually numbered about 50 and included men of accomplishment from various professions and political persuasions. What they had to have in common was a willingness to set differences aside for the evening and enjoy each other's company.

After Churchill’s death in 1965, the club commissioned Colin Coote to write its history. His book, The Other Club, is now out of print. Here are some “snatches” from it:

A story passed around at the club concerned co-founder Smith, at the time a barrister. A judge had recently told Smith he was “offensive.”

"As a matter of fact, we both are,” Smith replied. “The difference is that I'm trying to be and you can't help it"

During WW II brandy was in very short supply. It seems one evening none could at first be found. Then Coote tells us fortune struck: "After considerable [searching] an excellent 1875, a passable 1904, and an undated concoction with a kick like a mule [were found]. Churchill unhesitatingly chose the mule."

Coote, who was himself a club member, reports: "The only candidate I recall being repulsed was Sir Samuel Hoare, who shared with Sir John Simon an extraordinary capacity for getting himself disliked, coupled with a fervent desire to get himself beloved. But he probably did not know that he had been a candidate."
People sometimes ask why Churchill and Smith decided to name the club, The Other Club. Because they were already members of what they considered England’s finest club, Parliament.

I hope you're back on Monday.


Liestoppers is back up now

That's great news.

Well, it's great news if you're not Sgt. Gottlieb, DA Mike Nifong or Editor Bob Ashley.

Duke lacrosse: Brodhead’s “fairness.” Moneta’s “night-night”

On Sept. 3, I published “Duke lacrosse: A disturbing Chronicle story.”

On Mar. 27 Duke's student newspaper, The Chronicle, reported on statements made Mar. 25 by Duke’s President Richard H. Brodhead and Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta.

Regarding Brodhead, The Chronicle said:

Brodhead released a statement Saturday urging individuals "to cooperate to the fullest with the police inquiry while we wait to learn the truth."
By Mar. 25, Brodhead knew the lacrosse captains who rented the house on N. Buchanan Blvd. had voluntarily answered police questions, given them statements, gone to Duke Hospital and submitted to “rape kit” testing, and offered to take polygraph tests. What’s more, Brodhead knew all 46 players who could have contested the order to submit to DNA testing and mug photos, instead immediately complied with the order.

Yet The Chronicle said nothing about Brodhead mentioning the lacrosse team’s extraordinary cooperation with police.

Why not?

Because Brodhead decided to say nothing in his Mar. 25 statement about the players' cooperation.

He made that decision knowing that on Mar. 25 the public was unaware of the lacrosse team’s extraordinary cooperation.

In fact, Brodhead knew on Mar. 25 the public was being told just the opposite. See, for example, this Mar. 25 front-page Raleigh News & Observer story. (It’s the “interview story” with the anonymous accuser the N&O said was “the victim.”)

The N&O reported:
authorities vowed to crack the team's wall of solidarity.
"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."
In such circumstances, why did Brodhead decide to tell the public nothing about the team’s cooperation?

Brodhead likes to tell alumni groups and others he's been "very fair" to the lacrosse players.


How was Brodhead's withholding important information concerning the players’ cooperation fair to them?

How was it fair to any of us seeking to learn as much truth as possible about the situation?

How was it fair to Duke University or the community?

Whose interests were served by Brodhead's and his top administrators' withholding of that information from the public on Mar. 25?

The Chronicle's story also reported that on Mar. 25 Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta met with parents of the lacrosse players:
Parents of some members of the team met with University representatives Saturday afternoon.

"The meeting was about keeping the parents informed and focusing on the consequences for their kids and the way we will proceed pending the conclusion of the investigation," said Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs.

He added that the parents were frightened and nervous for their children.
In my Sept 9 post I had this to say about The Chronicle report of the parents meeting:
And look at what Moneta says about the parents: They “were frightened and nervous for their children.”

No doubt they were. But is that all, Vice President Moneta?

Are we to believe there were no parents speaking out who were critical of the university? …

Are we to believe that no parent asked why Brodhead and other top university officials weren't speaking out and criticizing the bias, inaccuracies, omissions and inflammatory language in the N&O’s Mar. 24 and 25 stories, which cast the accuser as “the victim” and framed their sons as her victimizers among whom were three gang-rapists and their teammates who were remaining silent while police tried to identify the gang-rapists?

What Moneta is quoted as saying about the meeting amounts to what many parents of small children call "a night-night line."
Now Durham-in-Wonderland blogger KC Johnson, in a “must read” post, reports on an email he received from a parent who was at the Mar. 25 meeting. Here’s part of what the parent wrote :
Moneta also said "the parents were frightened and nervous for their children."

[Moneta’s] statement, like so many other statements put out by Duke officials, was misleading and false.

I was one of the 40 or 50 parents who were at that meeting that day. We were nervous for our sons, but we were also furious at Duke. That was the day we all realized that Duke was not on our side and was not going to do anything to protect its students. That was the day Brodhead turned his back on our sons. …

We were furious, and felt totally betrayed by Duke. We knew our sons were innocent of these outrageous allegations, and so did Duke. We had all grilled our sons about what happened, and so had Duke officials. No charges had been filed, and the Duke police had told university officials the allegations were not credible.

A university lawyer had told team parents there was nothing to the allegations and they would go away. Top university officials, including the number two man [ Executive Vice President] Tallman Trask, [Athletic Director Joe] Alleva, and [Dean of Students Sue] Wasiolek, had met with the four team captains the previous afternoon, learned exactly what had and had not happened, including the extent of their cooperation with the police, and had told them they believed they were innocent.

In fact, Trask told the four captains as they left the meeting to "Beat Georgetown."
There’s much more from the parent, and as usual KC provides illuminating commentary. To repeat: It’s a “don’t miss” post.

It’a easy to understand why Brodhead and his top administrators don’t want us to look carefully at what they did and ask for more background information.

And it’s easy to understand why confidence in the Brodhead administration remains strong among Duke's faculty Group of 88 and DA Mike Nifong's supporters.

What’s hard to understand is why Duke trustees have failed to undertake a full, public investigation of all aspects of Brodhead and his top administrators’ statements and decisions regarding the Duke lacrosse matter.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Churchill Series – Sept 14, 2006

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

Churchill spent Christmas, 1943 in North Africa.

In the weeks just before Christmas, he’d developed pneumonia and suffered two heart attacks. His physician, Lord Moran, feared Churchill would not survive. Clementine and his son, Randolph, and daughter, Sarah, were summoned to his bedside. All of that was kept from the public.

Churchill made a miraculous recovery. When Christmas Day dawned he was ready to enjoy it. Along with his family and “the top brass,” Churchill arranged that some junior officers serving nearly would join him for the day. One of them tells us a little about the day, and how he managed among all “the personages:”

When we arrived at Mr. Churchill’s headquarters we were joined by the top brass of the Mediterranean theatre headed by General Eisenhower, General Bedell-Smith, General Sir Henry Maitland-Wilson and Air Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder.

Mrs. Churchill was there with daughter Sarah, her son Randolph and the Prime Minister’s physician, Lord Moran. I also recognized Mr. Churchill’s watchdog, Detective Inspector Thomson and met ‘Tommy’ Thompson, Churchill’s ‘personal assistant,’ and Desmond Morton, his ‘special investigator.’

As the most junior officer present, I decided to move into the only unoccupied corner before anyone asked me searching questions.

Then Mr. Churchill entered the room, shook my hand, and inquired, "How are you on this glorious Christmas morning? I have asked you and several other young officers here today because I thought you might have a more agreeable Christmas with me than you would in your Algerian fastness."

He then left the room and a surprising number of complete strangers gathered around me, convinced that Mr. Churchill had imparted some information of great importance, and I saw no reason to disillusion them.
I’m sure the young officer managed very nicely the rest of the day.
Gerald Pawle, "Christmas with Churchill," published in Finest Hour (54)

Grin or groan

In the Business section of the Sept. 13 Durham Herald Sun we read:

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. will not file its fiscal report for the second quarter on time because it still must restate previous financial statements, the company said Tuesday in a regulatory filing.
And above that we read the headline, “Holes remain in fiscal reports”

Duke lacrosse: JinC admits problem; vows to seek help

I hope the post title didn’t lead any of you to think I have a “ Rep. Patrick Kennedy” kind of problem.

You know – The AP is reporting

At 2:30 a.m. this morning, blogger JinC drove his brand new Lexus into the guardrail surrounding the Raleigh News & Observer’s executive office building.

JinC told security guards he thought he was on his way to an N&O editorial board meeting where exec news editor Melanie Sill, editorial page editor Steve Ford and others were voting on strategies to prop up Durham DA Mike Nifong and Duke’s President, Richard H. Brodhead.

No charges were filed against JinC who was driven home by Durham Police Sgt. Mark Gottlieb who passed the scene of the accident while driving back to Durham from Blinco’s, a popular Raleigh sports bar.

At a hastily called press conference this afternoon, JinC admitted he'd been with friends in the hours immediately preceding the accident but he vehemently denied reading even one article in the N&O or NY Times. “My friends read some of them, but I didn’t, “ JinC told reporters.

JinC refused to take further questions. He vowed to seek treatment at the Durham-in-Wonderland clinic; and said any future comment on his condition would come from the clinic's director, Dr. Robert KC Johnson.
No, folks, my problem is nothing like that.

I have the same problem many of you have. I can’t get straight answers from the N&O to questions decent citizens have been asking for months about the Duke Hoax.

Just two days ago I asked some very serious questions of Editor Sill at the N&O’s Editors’ Blog. You can read my questions on the thread of Sill’s post, "Duke lacrosse latest: Gottlieb profile," and then you can read Sill's response.

After reading Sill's dismissal of my questions, I decided to ask Sill if she’d answer very serious questions put to her and the N&O by historian and blogger KC Johnson.

Here’s the comment I just left on the thread of the same Edtiors’ Blog post.

Dear Melanie,

If you won’t answer my questions, will you answer those of the distinguished historian, Professor Robert KC Johnson?

At his Durham-in-Wonderland blog KC wonders why the N&O and other newspapers refuse to ask such questions as:

What actions has the Durham D.A.'s office taken to ensure that police officers uphold defendants' constitutional rights?

Or did Nifong's infamous statement--"One would wonder why one needs an attorney if one was not charged and had not done anything wrong"--suggest a D.A.'s office that cares little about how cases reach the court?

Is Nifong at all concerned with the stunning statistical disparity between Gottlieb's arrest record and that of the other three District 2 supervisors?

When did the Duke administration first learn of the statistical disparities revealed in the N&O article?

What actions does President Richard Brodhead plan to take in coming days to ensure that the Durham Police are not unfairly targeting Duke students?

What assurances, if any, can Brodhead give current or future Duke parents that their children will not experience the kind of treatment that Gottlieb provided Duke students in the months before March 2006?

Thank you for your attention to KC’s questions.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Churchill Series – Sept.13, 2006

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

In yesterday’s post, we read about the reasons why, in late 1943, Churchill appointed General Montgomery to serve as General Eisenhower’s ground forces commander for the Normandy invasion.

At the time he appointed Montgomery, Churchill was sixty-nine and one of the world’s most powerful men. Today, we’ll go back more than half a century earlier and learn something of the academic struggles of a school boy who would later lead his nation in its most challenging hour.

Churchill is about to tell us what he encountered as he prepared for the Mathematics portion of the Sandhurst entrance exam. At the time of his recollection he’s about 50 and makes sure to let us know of the terrible “frights” Mathematics gave him :

Of course what I call Mathematics is only what the Civil Service Commissioners expected you to know to pass a very rudimentary examination. I suppose that to those who enjoy this particular gift …the waters in which I swam must seem only a duck-puddle compared to the Atlantic Ocean. Nevertheless, when I plunged in, I was soon out of my depth.

When I look back upon those care-laden months, their prominent features rise from the abyss of memory. Of course, I had progressed far beyond Vulgar Fractions and the Decimal System.

We were arrived in an “Alice-in-Wonderland” world, at the portals of which stood “A Quadratic Equation.” This with a strange grimace pointed the way to the Theory of Indices, which again handed on the intruder to the full rigours of the Binomial Theorem.

Further dim chambers lighted by sullen. sulphouous fires were reputed to contain a dragon called the “Differential Calculus.”

But this monster was beyond the bounds appointed by the Civil Service Commissioners who regulated this state of Pilgrim’s heavy journey.

We turned aside, not indeed to the uplands of the Delectable Mountians, but into a strange corridor of things like anagrams and acrostics called Sines, Cosines and Tangents.
I don’t know about you, folks, but this stuff is starting to scare me, just as it did when I was sixteen.

So I’ll go no further with Pilgrim Churchill. But if you wish to continue with him, go to Winston S. Churchill's My Early Life and start reading on pg. 26.

Duke lacrosse: H-S OK's Gottlieb as Duke "assumes" and questions swirl

The Raleigh N&O and Duke’s student paper, The Chronicle, have reported for days on arrest records and other actions of Durham Police Sgt. Mark Gottlieb that raise serious questions about his possible abuse of police powers, particularly regarding his treatment of Duke students.

During that time, Bob Ashley’s Durham Herald Sun's been silent. But today, that changed. The H-S spoke out and informed readers :

"Cop who arrested students doing job"
That’s certainly a strong, clear statement, isn’t it? Makes you wonder why anyone’s been asking questions about Gottlieb.

If you're a fan of "Gottlieb/Nifong justice," you might want to thank Bob Ashley for his editorial.

Don't do that because “Cop who arrested students doing job” is the H-S’s front-page headline for what Ashley wants readers to believe is really a news story.

Now let’s look at some other things that reveal “Cop ... doing job” is an editorial/opinion piece and not a straight news story.

The H-S reports Gottlieb’s supervisor, [Capt. Ed] Sarvis :
added that the pressure to make arrests came from him, and that Gottlieb's fellow squad leaders in District 2 were just as aggressive about responding to it, even if their efforts didn't show up in their personal arrest statistics.
The H-S then describes a series of explanations Sarvis offered for various arrests, We’re clearly supposed to come to the end of the series believing :“It’s all OK, folks. There’s nothing to see here. Move on.”

But wait!

The H-S reporter, Ray Gronberg, never says he, Gronberg, saw any of the arrest records from the past year he reports Sarvis explained. Not one!

Gronberg doesn’t even say whether Sarvis had the arrest records before him as he was explaining them or whether, like Sgt. Gottlieb with his investigative notes, Sarvis relied on a very remarkable memory.

But that kind of information belongs in a news story.

The H-S piece offers readers no information about the frequency and circumstances in which Gottlieb’s cuffed Duke students.

As I said before, decent police officers, of whom there are many on the Durham Police force, try if at all possible to avoid cuffing for many reasons; not least because a cuffed person is much more vulnerable to injury; for instance, by tripping on a sidewalk.

The H-S apparently made no effort to independently check anything in Gottlieb’s background and relied entirely on what Capt. Sarvis offered. Or if the H-S editorial team did some independent checking, it decided not to tell us.

In an editorial, journalists can pretty much say whatever they like.

But if the H-S ever decides to do a straight news story on Sgt. Gottlieb’s treatment of Duke students and other citizens, I hope it does some independent digging going back through Gottlieb’s 15 year career.

The H-S piece offers no hint that what Sarvis says Durham Police did and, I assume, are still doing - singling out from among the general citizenry a class of citizens (Duke students) for differential arrest and other police treatment - may violate the Duke students’ right to equal protection under the law even if they live in Trinity Park.

Aren’t police when they, for instance, stop a Duke student for drunk driving supposed to treat the student the same as they would a Trinity Park pot banger?

For that matter, if police come upon a Duke student and a pot banger who are both violating Durham’s noise ordinance, aren’t the police supposed to treat the two the same, disregarding that one’s a Dukie and the other a prominent Trinity Park resident and enthusiastic supporter of DA Mike Nifong?

No defense attorney, civil rights advocate or victims’ rights advocate is quoted in the H-S piece.

At the end of today’s “Cop (just) doing job” story we find this:
Duke spokesman John Burness said the university had been aware of the Durham Police Department's zero-tolerance policy, and said administrators would be concerned if there was evidence Gottlieb "was being disproportionate."

"It'd be a matter for the police and the city manager to look at now that it's been brought to their attention, to see if there are patterns that are inappropriate," Burness said. "If there are, we assume they'd take appropriate action."
As far as I know, Burness’ statement is the first regarding Gottlieb’s record and the concerns it's raised.

If I’m reading it correctly and the H-S is quoting him accurately, Burness’ statement amounts to:
Duke trusts the Durham Police Department to investigate this matter. The university sees no need to do anything else.
I'm sending Burness an email this evening to ask him some questions regarding a number of matters, including his statement as noted by the H-S, making a point to ask whether I've summarized it correctly.
I'll be back on this story tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Churchill Series – Sept.12 , 2006

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

Churchill once said, quoting his friend, General Spears, that of all the crosses he had to bear during WW II “the heaviest was the Cross of Lorraine,” Gen. de Gaulle.

For General Eisenhower, “the heaviest cross” was without a doubt Field Marshal Montgomery, commander of Allied ground forces during the Normandy invasion, and later commander of all British ground forces in Northwest Europe.

Ike was often dissatisfied with what he saw as Montgomery’s hesitant use of British forces, but he kept his dissatisfaction private. Montgomery, in turn, felt Eisenhower was a diplomat rather than a skilled general.

Montgomery let the press know he had a battle strategy far more effective than Ike’s; and what’s more, Monty left the press in no doubt who he thought was the proper person to implement his strategy.

Eisenhower more than once was on the verge of asking his superiors, who included Churchill, to replace either him or Montgomery. At each crisis point in the Ike-Monty relationship, Churchill was ready, if necessary, to let Monty go. But the crises were in each case worked through.

Montgomery was known to be outspoken and headstrong, with a low opinion of just about everyone except himself. So how did he ever get so critical an appointment on a joint Anglo-American team on which cooperation would be essential for victory?

The great military historian, Russell Weigley, answers the question:

[With Eisenhower’s selection as Supreme Commander] the choice of [the senior ranking] British officer was Prime Minister Churchill’s to make, and in response to the spirited urgings of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, Churchill selected Brooke’s favorite subordinate, the hero of the Battle of El Alamein and commander of the British Eighth Army, General Sir Bernard Montgomery.

It was an almost inevitable decision. Montgomery had not a trace of [Field Marshal] Alexander’s conciliatory talents, which was too bad for the alliance; but the man who had turned back Rommel and the Panzerarmee Afrika from the gates of Alexandria, the winner of the only major all-British ground victory of the war, could hardly be denied.

Besides, there is every reason to believe in retrospect, as Brooke believed then, that Montgomery not only surpassed Alexander as an operational commander but was altogether Britain’s ablest general of the war.
On the question of the ablest British general of the war I’m not qualified to dispute Weigley, but I’ve heard some fine military historians say a very strong case can be made that Field Marshal William Slim was Britain's ablest WW II general.
Russell F. Weigley, Eisenhower's Lieutenants: The Campaign of France and Germany, 1944-1945. (pgs. 36-37)

Responding to Readers’Comments – 9–12–06

I've made many individual replies on the threads.

Also ---

For all the “nice work, John” comments: Thank you. I appreciate them very much.

For all the “heads up, John” comments: Thank you. They often point out things I’d otherwise miss.

Just yesterday morning I’d gone to the Duke Chronicle site expecting to find a story that would add to the N&O’s Sept. 9 story about Gottlieb’s arrest record and conduct re: Duke students. But yesterday’s Chronicle wasn’t up yet, and I moved on.

Most likely I wouldn’t have gone back to the site again until very late last evening. But someone just after I’d been to the site sent a “Gottlieb story at the Chronicle” email comment.

I jumped on the story and posted, mentioning in the post that the N&O and Chronicle stories reported on less than 6% of the time Gottlieb’s been a DBP officer.

That post and another I’d done on the Sept. 9 N&O story were at hand when the N&O’s Editors’ Blog unexpectedly posted on their Sept. 9 Gottlieb story. So I was able to quickly draw on those posts and get a detailed, questioning comment up at the EB. It’s the first one there and will be read by many who don’t come to JinC or other blogs reporting and commenting on the Hoax.

The readers’ “heads up” helped make that possible.

To those of you who have concerns regarding tech issues pertaining to emails, especially email destruction: I’ve passed on and highlighted as best I could your concerns. It’s certainly an important area but one about which I’m ignorant. There’s not much more I can do.

One thing we can all be sure of: The defense team includes people who are very tech savvy.

If you haven’t read the whole "60 Minutes proposal" blog comment thread, you really ought to. Lot’s of pith and humor. Just what threads can be at their best.

Now, as they used to say on Monty Python, for something completely different.

I want to respond directly here on the main page to some critical Anonymous commenters. I’m responding not because their comments are critical (fair and informed criticism is welcome here) but because the commenters made false statements.

One false statement has to do with President Brodhead’s position with regard to wishing to see David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann placed on trial. Some commenters object to my saying he wants to see them on trial; and tell me I’m losing credibility for saying it. Here’s a sample:

I should note that this thread began when JIC stated that President Brodhead wants to see the LAX players tried for gang rape and other felonies, a really ludicrous statement which suggests that JIC is more interested in pandering to the more extreme and rabid of the lacrosse apologists than in finding the truth.
Well, the commenter is certainly clear, albeit wrong.

Let’s look at what President Brodhead said on July 25 in a letter to the Friends of Duke University:
[W]e can't speak with certainty of matters that only the criminal justice system can resolve. We are eager for our students to be proved innocent. We share the wish for a speedy resolution of all the matters that are now in doubt.
That’s pretty clear, isn’t it?

If President Brodhead ever decides he doesn’t want to see the students put on trial, all he has to do is say so. His statement will be headline news.

Until then, let’s not misrepresent President Brodhead by claiming he doesn’t want to see the students put on trial. And let’s not be so hard on old JinC for only speaking truthfully about Brodhead.

Moving on –

A comment on the "Duke lacrosse: ALERT – Those DPD memos" post thread contains a very serious false statement I’ve put in bold:
I agree that some of your positions are getting too extreme. Specifically, it is extremely far fetched to assert that an entire police department is corrupt based on its response to discovery requests. I am an attorney who works for the federal government.
I never said an entire police department is corrupt based on it response to discovery requests. I never said anything close to that.

One of the nice things about blogging, at least if you have your facts straight and are telling the truth, is you can refer people back to whatever is at issue.

So I can say to any of you who doubt what I’m saying: “ Friend, I just gave you a link to the post the commenter’s talking about. Take a look at it.”

The commenter self-describes as “an attorney who works for the federal government.”

If that’s the case, it’s very troubling to think there’s an attorney working in the federal government who because of carelessness, mendacity or something else would make a false statement regarding so serious a matter.

That said, it’s also important to remember that a self-identification on the web may or may not be true.

A few final thoughts – If you look back over JinC posts, you’ll see I’ve not really said much explicitly critical of Brodhead.

Saying that Brodhead wants to see the students put on trial is, as we can now agree, simply stating a fact.

So is saying that while Brodhead has been very critical of the lacrosse players’ conduct, he’s said not a single public word of criticism of either DA Nifong or principal investigator Sgt. Gottlieb.

Stating those important facts about Brodhead is not necessarily being critical of him.

Indeed, there are many people who admire and support Brodhead precisely because those facts are true. They would be very upset if they weren’t.

Can you imagine, for instance, the reactions of Professors Orin Starn and Pater Wood, Community Activist Victoria Peterson, and Duke’s faculty’s Group of 88 if Brodhead were to say tomorrow he believes the Nifong/ Gottlieb investigation was and is a travesty; and that he agrees with Duke Law Professor James Coleman that Nifong should step aside and allow Governor Easley to appoint a special prosecutor for the case?

In the days to come, I plan to say a lot more about President Brodhead. Much of it will be critical of him.

I plan to make my criticisms based on facts. I ask President Brodhead’s many supporters at this blog to please not get upset with me when I state something factual about him.

I’m not responsible for what President Brodhead has said and not said, done and not done. He is.


Monday, September 11, 2006

The Churchill Series – Sept. 11, 2006

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

On 9/11 I was overseas and did not get home for some days thereafter. During that time I didn’t watch TV much, but when I did, what I most often saw on the screen were, of course, images of the smoking ruins at Ground Zero.

Frequently, the TV images were fed from cameras that had been set high up in nearby buildings to the East of Ground Zero. I knew that because in the background, past the smoking debris, I could see the Hudson River and the New Jersey shore beyond.

I also often saw something else in the background: the Statue of Liberty, untouched, its torch held high.

I had those images in mind when I selected for today’s post excerpts from a news article Churchill wrote for the Dec. 9, 1929 edition of The Daily Telegraph. He described what he saw and felt on Sept. 29, 1929, a few days after the Stock Market crashed.

Churchill visited the floor of the stock exchange on the 29th, and then rode in an elevator to one of the Stock Exhange building's highest floors. As he looked out from there toward the Hudson, he would have seen the area where the World Trade Center was later built. He told Telegraph readers:

Below lay the Hudson …dotted with numerous tugs and shipping of all kinds, and traversed by the ocean steamers from all over the world moving in and out of the endless rows of docks.

Beyond lay all the cities and workshop of the New Jersey shore, pouring out their clouds of smoke and steam. Around towered the mighty buildings of New York, with here and there glimpses far below of streets swarming with human life.

[No one who] gazed on such a scene could doubt that this financial disaster, huge as it is, cruel as it is to thousands, is only a passing episode in the march of a valiant and serviceable people who by fierce experiment are hewing new paths for man.
Martin Gilbert, Churchill and America.( pgs. 122-123)

For Liestoppers and Johnsville. And others, too

If you've followed the Duke Hoax story, you know about Sgt. Mark Gottlieb, Blinco's and the Raleigh News & Observer's reluctance to tell its devoted readers about the "fat, bald cop" involved in the alleged assault at Blinco's.

The N&O's silence hasn't stopped bloggers like Liestoppers and Johnsville News from reporting the Gottlieb/Blicno's story, and pressing the N&O to report it, too.

So have many "citizen journalists" who've commented at the N&O's own Editors' Blog and other places "on the net."

But for weeks, the Editors' Blog has ignored Gottlieb questions and information. So has the N&O's print edition.

The N&O has failed to follow-up, for instance, on reports that a "fat, bald cop" hollered a racial slur that night as he left Blinco's parking lot while an alleged assault victim lay on the ground.

Now tonight, the N&O finally reacts.

After weeks of ignoring questions and information pointing to the need for tough investigative reporting regarding Gottlieb's overall professional conduct, and in particular, his conduct that night at Blinco's, the N&O is offering readers a chance to comment at an Editors' Blog post: "Duke lacrosse latest: Gottlieb profile."

What could explain this sudden change? A 60 Minutes effect, perhaps?

Whatever the explanation, I hope bloggers and "citizen journalists" take advantage of a rare opportunity.

Offer your comments and questions at the Editors' Blog here.

Duke lacrosse: Gottlieb questions for the Raleigh N&O

Readers’ Note: If you’re not familiar with the following two JinC posts:

"Duke lacrosse: The N&O finally tells about Gottlieb. So why now?,"


"Duke lacrosse: More Gottlieb info; Brodhead still silent; and the “94% question"

please read them. Otherwise, what follows below may not make much sense to you.

Below is a comment I’ve just left at the Raleigh News & Observer's Editors’ Blog post, "Duke lacrosse latest: Gottlieb profile."

The Editors’ Blog post author is Melanie Sill, the N&O's exec editor for news.

Sill often tells N&O readers how proud she is of the N&O’s Duke lacrosse coverage, which other people, including me, believe did so much to twist what should have been a fair, thorough police investigation into a witch hunt that’s greatly harmed many innocent people and our community.


Dear Melanie:

The N&O’s Sept. 9 story reports on arrest records for the period May 2005 to Feb. 2006.

Those public records were available on Mar. 24 when you broke the story about the woman you seven times called “the victim” and the Duke students she was accusing of multiple crimes.

So why is the N&O only now telling us about Sgt. Gottlieb’s treatment of Duke students?

On Apr. 30 you ran an uncritical, even admiring story about Sgt. Gottlieb and Inv. Himan. But all you told trusting N&O readers about Sgt. Gottlieb’s treatment of Duke students was this:

Gottlieb has taken on Duke students before, as much of the off-campus population lives in the district where he serves. One loud party led to an investigation that didn't stand up in court. Five students who lived at 203 Watts St. were charged with noise and open-container violations for an October party. Gottlieb testified that by the time officers arrived, everyone had left. One student was convicted.

Why, Melanie, did you decide for that Apr. 30 story to tell us nothing more about Gottlieb’s treatment of Duke students?

Why is the N&O suddenly now telling us critical information about Gottlieb that it's known for months and withheld from us?

Your Sept. 9 story mentions only in passing Gottlieb’s cuffing of Duke students. Decent police officers, of whom there are very many in DPD, try to avoid cuffing for many reasons.

One has to do with this: as soon as an officer cuffs someone, the person is more vulnerable to serious injury even if the person is very cooperative. Just think of the situation either of us would be in if, while cuffed, we tripped on the sidewalk.

Why didn’t you tell us more about what records reveal about who Gottlieb cuffs; how often; and under what circumstances? Why didn’t you take a look at what other officers do in similar circumstances?

Your story provides no reaction by Duke’s President Richard H. Brodhead and other top administrators such as Assoc. Vice President for Campus Safety & Security Aaron Graves and Director of Police Robert Dean to your report of Gottlieb’s treatment of Duke students.

Why not? Didn’t you think to ask President Brodhead about your story? Are you planning to do so anytime in the future?

Tens of thousands of N&O readers - some Duke students and parents or otherwise affiliated with the university, some just decent citizens who want police work to be done fairly –want to know a lot more about this story.

Melanie, will it surprise you to know there are also thousands of decent police officers - in Durham and elsewhere – who want to know more about this story?

What are your follow-up reporting plans?

Will you seek an interview with DA Mike Nifong? Gottlieb’s his lead investigator on the Duke case. Are you planning to ask Nifong for a reaction to your story? Did Nifong already know some or all of what you reported on Sept. 9? Does he favor a more extensive look at Gottlieb’s record?

Gottlieb is a 15 year veteran of the Durham Police Department. The May 2005 to Feb. 2006 time period you report on represents less than 6% of his time as an officer. Are you planning to take a look at his arrest and other records for the other 94% of the time he’s been a DPD officer?

Your story made no mention of the alleged assault at Blinco’s. Gottlieb was there and by some accounts a principal in the alleged attack. The alleged victim has said a “fat bald cop” was one of the ringleaders of the alleged assault. Gottlieb is fat and bald.

Why no mention of the Blinco’s incident in your story?

There are more questions I want to ask, but I need to shop and cook now.

I’ll be back soon.

Thank you for your attention to my questions.


9/11 Remembrance and Resolve

Indelible events. Pearl Harbor. President Kennedy’s assassination. 9/11.

We remember exactly where we were when we “heard.”

Michelle Malkin posts with some of her 9/11 recollections and strong words of resolve we should all embrace. She links to many bloggers’ 9/11 anniversary posts.

La Shawn Barber reminds us we are in “A Religious and Unconventional War.” Her post includes a powerful affirmation of America and some direct words for Muslims who want to make fundamental changes in America to suit what they say is their right to religious freedom. Here’s part of La Shawn’s response to that :

As flawed as America may be, it is unique among the ordinary. “Freedom” is not just a word or an idea; this country, above all others, every last one, has been able to put the word into action as the world has never seen.

In this country, you can be a Muslim without fear of persecution. The problems begin when you, as a Muslim, demand that our banking system, our legal system, our whole way of life, change to accommodate you. I’m convinced that changing this country to accommodate Islam is the goal of even moderate Muslims.
There are some stirring pictures accompanying La Shawn’s post, including the one of the three firemen raising Old Glory.

Betsy Newmark shares her recollections of the day. She concludes:
Let us pause to remember the grief and the anger. Let us never forget.

Duke lacrosse: More Gottlieb info; Brodhead still silent; and the “94% question.”

In today’s Duke student newspaper, The Chronicle, there’s the headline, “Students criticize lax cop's behavior,” followed by:

Durham Police Department Sergeant Mark Gottlieb--a lead investigator in the rape case against members of the 2005-06 men's lacrosse team--has a checkered past with Duke students.

Gottlieb has occasionally used violent tactics and misrepresented the truth in court, students who he has arrested allege.

Gottlieb also jailed students for noise violations while allowing a non-student charged with the more serious charge of carrying a concealed weapon to walk away with
a citation, according to his documented arrest history.

When reached by phone, Gottlieb--who is currently on sick leave--declined to comment.

Gottlieb arrested or incarcerated Duke students at a higher rate than non-students, even when the students were accused of less-serious crimes than the non-students, according to a dossier given to The Chronicle by a Durham attorney close to the lacrosse case.

"In the winter, after seeing a number of students coming to our office reporting aberrant behavior on the part of one officer, we were afraid for the safety of students," the attorney said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "We looked to see if there was a statistical basis for it."

The attorney's examination of 32 bookings Gottlieb made in the final months of 2005 and in January 2006 revealed that 19 of the booked individuals were Duke students and the remaining 13 were not students.

While 16 out of the 19 students were arrested--most for nonviolent crimes such as noise-ordinance and open container violations--only six of the 13 non-students were arrested, the crimes they committed ranging from impersonating a police officer to assault on a female.
There much more to the story. You can read it all here.

A few thoughts ---

Today’s Chronicle story covers some of the same ground as a Raleigh News & Observer Sept. 9 story, “Detective got tough with Duke students.”

The two stories share at least two major weaknesses.

Neither gets top Duke officails on the record regarding what the two papers are reporting about Gottlieb. We're told nothing about Duke President Richard H. Brodhead's response to either story. There's nothing from top Duke administrators such as Assoc. Vice President for Campus Safety & Security Aaron Graves or Duke’s Director of Police, Robert Dean.

When will either paper get those Duke leaders on the record?

A lot of Duke students and parents want to know what Duke’s top administrators, especially President Brodhead, think about what’s being reported.

And so would many of us who live in the community and want fair police treatment for Duke students, ourselves and everyone else visiting Durham.

What's more, if there are any civil rights and/or civil liberties advocates on Duke’s faculty who want to say a word or two about what’s being reported, I’m sure readers will give any such faculty member(s) their attention.

A second major weakness of both stories is this: Gottlieb is a fifteen year veteran of the Durham Police Department. But the Gottlieb arrest records time period reported on in today’s Chronicle story (“final months of 2005 and in January 2006”) is overlapped by the arrest record time period reported on in the Sept. 9 N&O story (“May 2005 to February 2006”).

Given that Gottlieb is a fifteen year DPD veteran, the ten month time period – “May 2005 to February 2006” - covers a little less than 6% of the time Sgt. Gottlieb has been a sworn DPD officer.

The Chronicle, N&O and Editor Bob Ashley’s Herald Sun should all take a look at Gottlieb’s arrest and other public records for the other 94% of the time he's been a DPD officer.

I’ll continue to follow this story.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Duke lacrosse: The N&O finally tells about Gottlieb. So why now?

I’ve got questions and commentary regarding yesterday’s Raleigh News & Observer’s story, “Detective [Gottlieb] got tough with Duke students.”

For those who missed the story, excerpts follow.

The rest of you can scroll to where you see the ***** line and read from there.

N&O excerpts :

If three Duke University lacrosse players face a jury this spring, defense attorneys likely will take aim at Sgt. Mark Gottlieb, the Durham police officer who supervised the investigation into the March 13 party at which an escort service dancer says she was raped.
Most of you probably know that but this will be news:
Records show [Gottlieb] arrested a disproportionate number of Duke students, all on misdemeanor violations such as carrying an open beer on a public sidewalk or violating the city's noise ordinance.

Such charges usually earn an offender a pink ticket such as those issued for speeding. But court records show Gottlieb often arrested Duke students on such charges, taking them to jail in handcuffs.(bold added)

Reached by telephone, Gottlieb declined to be interviewed for this story. A department spokesman said this week the sergeant is on leave, though what kind was not disclosed. …

From May 2005 to February 2006, the period during which Gottlieb was a patrol supervisor in the district, court and police records examined by The News & Observer show that Gottlieb arrested 28 people. Twenty were Duke students, including a quarterback of the football team and the sister of a men's lacrosse player. At least 15 of the Duke students were taken to jail.

In comparison, the three other squad supervisors working in District 2 during the same 10 months -- Sgts. Dale Gunter, John Shelton and Paul Daye -- tallied a combined 64 arrests. Two were Duke students. Both were taken to jail.

Gottlieb often treated Duke students and nonstudents differently. For example, Gottlieb in 2004 wrote a young man a citation for illegally carrying a concealed .45-caliber handgun and possessing less than a half-ounce of marijuana, but records indicate he wasn't taken to jail. He was not a Duke student.

The N&O cites arrest records for the period May 2005 to February 2006 which have been available to the N&O since it “broke” the Duke lacrosse story on Mar. 24.

But in all that time the N&O’s said almost nothing about Gottlieb’s arrest records for the period May 2005 to Feb. 2006, even thought by early April defense attorneys and others who knew of Gottlieb’s record were urging N&O reporters and editors to report it.

Why was the N&O so silent?

The N&O did examine Gottlieb’s arrest records for an uncritical, even admiring story it ran on Apr. 30. (“Veteran sarge, novice detective”)

But here’s all the N&O had to say on Apr. 30 about Gottlieb’s treatment of Duke students:
Gottlieb has taken on Duke students before, as much of the off-campus population lives in the district where he serves. One loud party led to an investigation that didn't stand up in court. Five students who lived at 203 Watts St. were charged with noise and open-container violations for an October party. Gottlieb testified that by the time officers arrived, everyone had left. One student was convicted.
Why is the N&O suddenly now telling us critical information about Gottlieb that its known for months and withheld from us?

I think part of the answer has to do with Stuart Taylor’s Aug. 29 article,"Witness for the prosecution? The New York Times is still victimizing innocent Dukies," which included this:
Gottlieb had drawn fire before the alleged Duke rape—perhaps unbeknownst to the Times—as a Dukie-basher who reveled in throwing kids into jail for petty drinking infractions, noise violations, and the like, sometimes with violent criminals as cellmates.
Taylor’s article put the N&O on notice that Gottlieb’s treatment of Duke students was “getting public.”

But I think the main reason the N&O finally told us on Sept. 9 about Gottlieb’s treatment of Duke students has to do with Sept. 24.

I’ll bet most of you can guess where I’m going.

On Sept. 24 CBS's 60 Minutes will do a segment on the Duke Hoax. As background 60 Minutes researchers and other staffers have been in contact with the N&O.

60 Minutes surely wanted to know more than the N&O has told us about the anonymous interview with the woman the N&O said in March was “the victim.”
60 Minutes no doubt asked the N&O lots of other questions. It very likely asked for on camera, “no promises” interviews with certain reporters and top editors.

One reporter 60 Minutes would very likely want to get on camera is Samiha Khanna. She was one of two N&O reporters bylined for both the N&O’s Mar. 24 “broke the case” story and the Mar. 25 “interview with the anonymous victim” story.

People at the N&O tell me Khanna conducted the interview while her co-reporter, Anne Blythe, got “background information” such as Duke Law Professor Paul Haagen’s remarks about lacrosse needing to be a concern because it was a sport of “violence.” The N&O used Haagen’s irresponsible opining as its story closer.

Khanna was the sole reporter bylined for the Apr. 30 “Veteran sarge, novice detective” story. She’s also one of three reporters bylined for the Sept. 9 story.

I don't doubt 60 Minutes has already talked to Khanna and/or her editors. So the N&O has a good idea from 60 Minutes’ questions of what 60 Minutes is interested in and will very likely report on air.

I’m betting the N&O is very confident (fearful?) Gottlieb’s treatment of Duke students is going to come up on Sept. 24.

So I think the Sept. 9 N&O story is a major, preemptive CYA in which the N&O went as easy as it could on Gottlieb and Duke’s administration.

Here are a few other things pointing to the story as more a CYA than a fair and thorough news report.

The N&O makes no mention of the alleged assault at Blinco’s. Gottlieb was there and by some accounts a principal in the alleged attack. The alleged victim has said a “fat bald cop” was one of the ringleaders of the alleged assault. Gottlieb is fat and bald.

The N&O doesn’t do more than mention in passing Gottlieb’s cuffing of Duke students. Decent police officers, of whom there are very many in DPD, try to avoid cuffing for many reasons.

One has to do with this: as soon as you cuff someone, you’ve made that person more vulnerable to serious injury even if the person is very cooperative. Just think of the situation of any of us cuffed and tripping on the sidewalk.

If the N&O were doing a fair and thorough story about Gottlieb’s treatment of Duke students instead of a CYA, it would certainly have asked for comment from Duke’s President Richard H. Brodhead and other top administrators such as Assoc. Vice President for Campus Safety & Security Aaron Graves, as well as Director of Police Robert Dean.

But there was no questioning of anyone at Duke or any mention in the story of an effort to contact any administrators there.

The N&O’s failure to get a Duke response deprived readers of an important part of the story they should have had. [Note to Duke Chronicle editors: Please follow-up on this part of the story. - JinC]

Not putting President Brodhead and others at Duke on the record was what some journalists would call “a bouquet toss” to Duke's top administrators. The N&O has treated top Duke administrators "gently" since they adopted the "race, class, gender" Duke lacrosse orientation so popular with most Duke faculty and so common and fervid in the N&O's Duke lacrosse news stories and columns.

Closing thoughts - No matter how much bouquet tossing the N&O does and how hard Duke tries to avoid responding, students, parents, and trustees who care now have a stronger case for demanding President Brodhead and his senior administrative team finally begin speaking out against injustices directed against Duke students.

The silence of the Brodhead administration has made a bad situation much worse, including more dangerous.

As for the N&O -- Many years ago a physician told me North Carolinians could very significantly imporve their physical and mental health if we would just stop doing three things: Smoking, driving drunk, and reading the N&O.

For some other bloggers' takes on the N&O's Sept. 9 story see:


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