Archive for March, 2013

Texas DA Slain in His Home Had Armed Himself

March 31, 2013

By NOMAAN MERCHANT and NICHOLAS RICCARDI | Associated Press, March 31, 2013

Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland took no chances after one of his assistant prosecutors was gunned down two months ago. McLelland said he carried a gun everywhere he went and was extra careful when answering the door at his home.

Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes speaks at a news conference, Sunday, March 31, 2013, in Kaufman, Texas. On Saturday, Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were murdered in their home. (AP Photo/Mike Fuentes)

“I’m ahead of everybody else because, basically, I’m a soldier,” the 23-year Army veteran said in an interview less than two weeks ago.

On Saturday, he and his wife were found shot to death in their rural home just outside the town of Forney, about 20 miles from Dallas.

While investigators gave no motive for the killings, Forney Mayor Darren Rozell said: “It appears this was not a random act.”

“Everybody’s a little on edge and a little shocked,” he said.

The slayings came less than two weeks after Colorado’s prison chief was shot to death at his front door, apparently by an ex-convict, and a couple of months after Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was killed in a parking lot a block from his courthouse office. No arrests have been made in Hasse’s slaying Jan. 31.

McLelland, 63, is the 13th prosecutor killed in the U.S. since the National Association of District Attorneys began keeping count in the 1960s.

Sheriff David Byrnes would not give details Sunday of how the killings unfolded and said there was nothing to indicate for certain whether the DA’s slaying was connected to Hasse’s.

El Paso County, Colo., sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Joe Roybal said investigators had found no evidence so far connecting the Texas killings to the Colorado case, but added: “We’re examining all possibilities.”

Colorado’s corrections director, Tom Clements, was killed March 19 when he answered the doorbell at his home outside Colorado Springs. Evan Spencer Ebel, a white supremacist and former Colorado inmate suspected of shooting Clements, died in a shootout with Texas deputies two days later about 100 miles from Kaufman.

McLelland himself, in an Associated Press interview shortly after the Colorado slaying, raised the possibility that Hasse was gunned down by a white supremacist gang.

The weekend slayings raised concerns for prosecutors across Texas, and some were taking extra security precautions. Byrnes said security would be increased at the courthouse in Kaufman but declined to say if or how other prosecutors in McLelland’s office would be protected.

Harris County District Attorney Mike Anderson said he accepted the sheriff’s offer of 24-hour security for him and his family after learning about the slayings, mostly over concerns for his family’s safety. Anderson said also would take precautions at his Houston office, the largest one in Texas, which has more than 270 prosecutors.

“I think district attorneys across Texas are still in a state of shock,” Anderson said Sunday.

McLelland, elected DA in 2010, said his office had prosecuted several cases against racist gangs, who have a strong presence around Kaufman County, a mostly rural area dotted with subdivisions, with a population of about 104,000.

“We put some real dents in the Aryan Brotherhood around here in the past year,” he said.

In recent years, the DA’s office also prosecuted a case in which a justice of the peace was found guilty of theft and burglary and another case in which a man was convicted of killing his former girlfriend and her 10-year-old daughter.

McLelland said he carried a gun everywhere, even to walk his dog around town, a bedroom community for the Dallas area. He figured assassins were more likely to try to attack him outside. He said he had warned all his employees to be constantly on the alert.

“The people in my line of work are going to have to get better at it,” he said of dealing with the danger, “because they’re going to need it more in the future.”

The number of attacks on prosecutors, judges and senior law enforcement officers in the U.S. has spiked in the past three years, according to Glenn McGovern, an investigator with the Santa Clara County, Calif., district attorney’s office who tracks such cases.

For about a month after Hasse’s slaying, sheriff’s deputies were parked in the district attorney’s driveway, said Sam Rosander, a McLelland neighbor.

The FBI and the Texas Rangers joined the investigation into the McLellands’ deaths.

McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, 65, were the parents of two daughters and three sons. One son is a police officer in Dallas. The couple had moved into the home a few years ago, Rozell said.

“Real friendly, became part of our community quickly,” Rozell said. “They were a really pleasant, happy couple.”

Riccardi reported from Denver. Associated Press writers Michael Graczyk in Houston, Angela K. Brown in Fort Worth and P. Solomon Banda in Denver contributed to this report.

Advertisements

Riverside, CA Officer Shot by Dorner Makes 1st Public Appearance

March 31, 2013

From The Associated Press, March 31, 2013

A Riverside police officer nearly killed in an ambush by rogue ex-cop Christopher Dorner made his first public appearance since the shooting, at an emotional dinner where he was greeted warmly by friends and admirers and shared a table with the wife of his late training officer.

Officer Andrew Tachias was sitting in his patrol car with Officer Michael Crain on Feb. 7 when Dorner pulled alongside them at a stoplight and opened fire.

In this Friday, Mar. 29, 2013, photo, Riverside police officer Andrew Tachias, left, is greeted by Aurelio Molendez, vice president of the Riverside Police Officers Association in Riverside, Calif. Tachias, who was nearly killed in an ambush by rogue ex-cop Christopher Dorner, made his first public appearance since the shooting. Tachias was sitting in his patrol car with Officer Michael Crain on Feb. 7 when Dorner pulled alongside them at a stoplight and opened fire. (AP Photo/The Press-Enterprise, David Bauman)

Crain was killed. Tachias, who is still recovering, was shot eight times.

“I think he’s like all of us. It’s ups and downs,” Crain’s widow, Regina, said of Tachias. “One minute you’re fine, and the next you are in a hole.”

She added the dinner was the first time she and Tachias, 27, had met.

The officer, whose wounded hands were encased in protective coverings, has said he wants to return to work.

“I’m absolutely speechless for him to be back in this environment,” said Officer Scott Levesque, who was among those at the event at Riverside’s Original Roadhouse Grill.

The dinner capped a daylong fundraiser for the families of Tachias and Crain. It drew so many people that at one point, the restaurant ran out of silverware, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.

Tachias, dressed in a gray and black striped hoodie and sporting a beard, was greeted with hugs when he arrived at about 8 p.m. and took a table with Crain’s widow.

“To be close to the person who was with him last is comforting to me,” Regina Crain said.

Crain’s father also attended the event, along with Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz and Lt. Larry Gonzalez, the watch commander on duty when Crain and Tachias were attacked.

Dorner went on a rampage after he was fired by the Los Angeles Police Department for filing a false report.

He killed four people and wounded Tachias before committing suicide Feb. 12 after he was cornered in a mountain cabin near Big Bear Lake.

Authorities surrounded the cabin after a wild chase that began when Dorner tied up a couple and stole their car, crashed it and carjacked another vehicle at gunpoint, then crashed that one and fled to the cabin.

District Attorney, Wife Shot to death in Texas County Where Assistant DA was Killed

March 31, 2013

By Frank Heinz, NBCDFW.com, March 31, 2013

Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia were found shot to death inside their Forney home Saturday, nearly two months to the day after his top assistant was gunned down on his way to work earlier this year.

Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland

Kaufman County Sheriff’s Department investigators confirmed the deaths to NBC 5 Saturday evening, but had little else to say in the early stages of the investigation.

One source close to the probe said the top prosecutor and his wife were found by a concerned relative or close friend who had gone to the house about 4 p.m. after being unable to reach them.

Other sources told NBC 5 that the McLelland’s front door may have been kicked in and that gunshots had been fired, though police have not independently confirmed that information.

There was no immediate confirmed link between Saturday’s murders and the Jan. 31 slaying of Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse, but it would be hard to not speculate on possible connections. With that in mind, officials contacted all Kaufman County officials to ensure their safety Saturday. One former Kaufman County prosecutor was “in hiding” Saturday evening and said others were as well.

While police officers are frequently the target of violence while trying to apprehend criminals, attacks on prosecutors are extremely rare though not unheard of. McLelland said as much in January when speaking about his slain friend when he said Hasse was aware of the dangers associated with being a prosecutor.

At the time, he described Hasse as a really, really good man that was an excellent friend and a spectacular prosecutor who wouldn’t be easily replaced. He also vowed to catch Hasse’s killers saying, “I hope that the people that did this are watching. Because we’re very confident that we’re going to find you, pull you out of whatever hole you’re in, bring you back and let the people of Kaufman County prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”

FBI agents and Texas Rangers, who were still investigating the unsolved slaying of Hasse, are now leading the investigation into Saturday’s murders, according to a federal law enforcement source.

McLelland and his wife, Cynthia Woodward McLelland, have five children including two daughters and three sons. One of the sons is a Dallas police officer.

Investigators are expected to hold a news conference Sunday morning. More information is expected to be released at that time.

NBC 5’s Ray Villeda and Scott Gordon contributed to this report.

Obama Renews Assault on Gun Rights

March 31, 2013

From The New American by Alex Newman, March 29, 2013

As lawmakers face overwhelming pressure from constituents to uphold the Second Amendment and beat back what even some Democrats have called the “extreme” Obama administration-led assault on gun rights, the White House and its allies are pushing hard to shore up dwindling support. Despite the firm backing of radical groups like the Brady Campaign as well as billionaire anti-freedom zealot and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, however, lawmakers are largely still standing up against the vicious assault on citizens’ rights.

Facing Firm Opposition, Obama Renews Assault on Gun Rights

Speaking weeks before the Senate is expected to vote on a range of bills infringing on the unalienable right of Americans to keep and bear arms, Obama relied almost exclusively on half-baked emotional appeals rather than facts to push his controversial agenda. Mentioning last year’s Newtown massacre over a half-dozen times in his short speech — and continually harping on children murdered mostly in so-called “gun free zones” — the president sounded increasingly desperate as he begged lawmakers and the public to advance his unconstitutional assault on the Second Amendment.

“We all feel that it is our first impulse, as parents, to do everything we can to protect our children from harm; to make any sacrifice to keep them safe; to do what we have to do to give them a future where they can grow up and learn and explore, and become the amazing people they’re destined to be,” Obama said as his own children were under the protection of heavily armed Secret Service agents. “That’s why, in January, Joe Biden, leading a task force, came up with, and I put forward, a series of common-sense proposals to reduce the epidemic of gun violence and keep our kids safe.”

Of course, in keeping with his long track-record of distorting the truth, the president claimed that all of his radical proposals were “consistent with the Second Amendment.” Instead of infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners, Obama claimed, his agenda would merely keep guns out of the hands of “dangerous” people — military veterans, for example, who may have suffered from PTSD after returning from the federal government’s lawless wars abroad.

“And this is our best chance in more than a decade to take common-sense steps that will save lives,” he claimed in the spirit of never letting a crisis go to waste, apparently oblivious to studies consistently showing that more guns are correlated with less crime. “As I said when I visited Newtown just over three months ago, if there is a step we can take that will save just one child, just one parent, just another town from experiencing the same grief that some of the moms and dads who are here have endured, then we should be doing it. We have an obligation to try.”

Among the proposals Obama touted was a deeply controversial effort to create “universal background checks” — a measure that analysts and critics have long pointed out is simply a backdoor scheme to create a national registry of weapons. While its proponents say the measure would help keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the facts show otherwise. Criminals, by definition, do not obey the law. Instead, prominent gun rights activists say the real agenda is to compile a record of who owns weapons, something governments worldwide have done throughout history prior to confiscation and oftentimes mass-murder.

“The instant background check is gun registration,” Gun Owners of America (GOA) chief Larry Pratt told The New American in a phone interview, adding that it was crucial for Congress stop it. “The government will not answer when we ask how they are destroying the names and addresses, as required by law, of those that have been checked. They just don’t respond; ‘so sue us’ is kind of the attitude that they have.”

Other assaults on the Second Amendment Obama pushed in his speech include the radical so-called “Assault Weapons Ban.” The deeply unpopular legislation is almost universally expected to crash and burn, with some analysts suggesting it may be a way to let vulnerable Democrats vote against it to shore up support from overwhelmingly pro-gun rights constituents. Another proposal would purport to ban standard-capacity magazines used in tens of millions of semi-automatic guns all across America.

Of course, Obama bemoaned the fact that tens of millions of Americans and numerous grassroots organizations like the National Rifle Association (NRA) and GOA are resisting his lawless attack. “They’re doing everything they can to make all our progress collapse under the weight of fear and frustration,” he whined in an Orwellian manner, calling on his supporters to get behind his unlawful schemes and lobby Congress. For Obama, however, “progress” appears to be defined as restricting freedom ever more vigorously.

Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, took it a step further, saying a ban on semi-automatic weapons and standard-capacity magazines was only the start of the assault. “Let me say this as clearly as I can: This is just the beginning,” Biden claimed on a conference call organized by Bloomberg’s “Mayors Against Illegal Guns,” which is pouring millions of dollars into the full-blown assault on the Second Amendment. “We believe that weapons of war have no place on our streets.”

Apparently, however, the drones, armored personnel carriers and potentially billions of rounds of ammunition contracted by the Department of Homeland Security — all weapons of war, including hollow-point rounds banned by the Geneva Conventions — are excluded from Biden’s disdain for “weapons of war” on American streets. Critics have also pointed out the hypocrisy of pretending to care about children even as the administration continues to murder hundreds of children worldwide, including an American teen, using drone-fired missiles as part of its terror war.   

Of course, most of the assaults on gun rights are expected to go down in flames — especially with numerous Democrats in pro-gun states distancing themselves from the effort as polls show less than half of Americans favor more infringements on the Second Amendment. Assuming activists keep the pressure up, the GOP-controlled House is also expected to serve as a bulwark against unconstitutional gun control.

Just in case, however, a growing coalition of liberty-minded Republican Senators is pledging to filibuster any efforts to pass more unconstitutional infringements on the rights of Americans. Included on the growing list are Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). More are expected to join if the threat becomes imminent.

“The president asserts his new gun proposals will reduce violent crime, yet provides no evidence that these or any other law would have prevented tragedies such as Newtown,” explained Senator Lee, a popular liberty-minded lawmaker with a growing following of devoted supporters. “While having Congress vote on new gun laws may make the president feel like he’s doing something constructive, the proposals’ primary effect would be to limit the rights of law-abiding citizens.”

At the state level, meanwhile, governments are working on legislation to protect the rights of citizens as well. Numerous states, for example, are in the process of nullifying any potential federal gun-control legislation — restrictions on constitutionally guaranteed rights that would by definition be unconstitutional. Some states are even working to make it a felony for any federal agent to enforce lawless restrictions on gun rights.

Hundreds of sheriffs all across America are also promising to defend the Second Amendment, even if it means stopping the feds at the county line. “Anytime that they come against the Second Amendment, or try to say ‘we’re going to do this or we’re going to do that,’ well we here are not going to comply with that,” Jackson County, Kentucky, Sheriff Denny Peyman told The New American in a phone interview. “It goes back to the way our system is set up — with myself being the chief law-enforcement officer here — federal agents will not be allowed to come in here and do that.”

Some states are also coming up with common-sense approaches to dealing with school safety. South Dakota, for example, just passed a law allowing teachers and faculty to carry firearms on campus to defend themselves and their students if the need should ever arise. Supporters of the measure noted that virtually every mass shooting in America has happened in a so-called “gun-free zone,” which analysts have called “magnets” for would-be killers.

Of course, the president’s family, banks, government facilities, celebrities, mayors like Bloomberg, and other “important” people are all protected with firearms. Supporters of abolishing deadly “gun-free zones” wonder why American children, by contrast, must be “protected” only by ineffective signs advertising the fact that everyone in the vicinity is unarmed. There are currently at least two bills in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal the controversial federal statute.  

According to analysts, anti-gun rights extremists are becoming increasingly desperate and hysterical — they know that if they fail this time, their lawless campaign to strip Americans of their God-given rights may well be crushed for generations. As such, gun rights advocates say it is more crucial than ever for supporters of the Second Amendment to do everything in their power to defend the unalienable right to keep and bear arms from Obama’s unconstitutional attacks.

Photo of President Barack Obama speaking on gun control Mar. 28 at the White House: AP Images

So This is How Obama Got Re-elected; This is Why Democrats Don’t Want Voter ID Laws!

March 29, 2013

Cincinnati Poll Worker Charged With Voting Half Dozen Times in November

From http://www.foxnews.com by Eric Shawn, March 11, 2013

She admitted voting twice in the presidential election last November, and now, Obama supporter Melowese Richardson has been indicted for allegedly voting at least six times. She also is charged with illegal voting in 2008 and 2011.

The 58-year-old veteran Cincinnati poll worker, indicted Monday, faces eight counts of voter fraud. Two others, one of whom is a nun, have been charged separately.

Richardson had admitted on camera to a local TV station, “Yes, I voted twice,” claiming she was concerned that her vote would not count. She also said there “was no intent on my part to commit any voter fraud.”

“I’ll fight it for Mr. Obama and Mr. Obama’s right to sit as president of the United States,” she proclaimed in the interview.

Officials charged that she voted in her own name by absentee ballot and also in person at the polls, but Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Deters said she also is charged with voting in the name of five other people in various elections.

“This is not North Korea,” Deters said in a statement announcing the indictments. “Elections are a serious business and the foundation of our democracy. In the scheme of things, individual votes may not seem important, but this could not be further from the truth. Every vote is important and every voter and candidate needs to have faith in our system. The charges today should let people know that we take this seriously.”

Richardson made national headlines when the Hamilton County Board of Elections announced that it was investigating whether she voted up to half a dozen times, including on behalf of her granddaughter, India Richardson.

India told Fox News that her grandmother did indeed vote in her name, telling us that “it wasn’t a big deal.”

But voting twice or in another person’s name is illegal.

Prosecutors say the five other people for whom Richardson cast ballots are all relatives.

Sister Marguerite Kloos also faces one count of illegal voting, for allegedly submitting an absentee ballot in the name of a fellow nun, Sister Rose Marie Hewitt, who had died before absentee ballots were sent out. She is accused of opening Sister Hewitt’s ballot, forging her signature and mailing it to the Board of Elections as a vote.

The 54-year-old Kloos has resigned as the dean of the Division of Arts and Humanities at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, where she still serves as an associate professor of religious and pastoral studies.

Kloos was not indicted but faces what is known as an information, because her lawyer contacted prosecutors and she agreed to cooperate and plead guilty.

“As a valued member of the Mount community, our thoughts are with her during this difficult time,” the college said in a written statement. “We respect her privacy and will not comment further on this matter at this time.”

Russell Glassop, 75, also is charged with illegal voting.  He is accused of voting on behalf of his wife, who died before election day.

But it was Richardson’s case, and the possibility of repeated votes, that shocked many. She faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted. Efforts to contact her and her lawyer have been unsuccessful.

The Hamilton County Board of Elections recently held hearings on cases of possible double voting and voter fraud, part of a statewide review ordered by Secretary of State John Husted. He called on all 88 counties to review complaints of fraud, as well as voter disenfranchisement.

“Every voter must play by the rules, and if they don’t they will be held accountable,” Husted, a Republican, said in a written statement. “For voters to have confidence in our elections, we must prosecute every case of voter fraud in Ohio.”

Last month, Husted told Fox News that Richardson’s case was especially troubling, because “it appears she not only attempted to vote more than once, but was actually successful at it and having those additional votes counted.”

“Most attempts are caught by the system. But there are cases that do slip through, as this one does, and we need to make sure that we really send a strong message, that if you do this, you are going to be held accountable,” Husted said. “It might mean fines, it might mean jail time.”

Hamilton County prosecutors are investigating three additional cases of possible voter fraud.

Feds Accused of Hiding Information From Judges About Covert Cellphone Tracking Tool

March 28, 2013

From http://www.slate.com by Ryan Gallagher, March 28, 2013

For law enforcement agencies, a strict code of secrecy is the modus operandi when it comes to deploying clandestine surveillance tools. But now a lack of candor could be coming back to bite the authorities. The U.S. government is facing accusations that it concealed information from judges about a controversial cellphone tracking tool when seeking authorization for its use.

155689379

“Stingray” law-enforcement technology could violate cellphone users’ privacy, say rights groups

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A Justice Department document obtained by the ACLU suggests that federal agents in California were using a so-called “Stingray” cellphone surveillance device without “explicit” approval. Stingray is the generic term used to describe a portable spy gadget that has been covertly used by the authorities for almost two decades to trick phones within a targeted area into hopping onto a fake network. The FBI says it uses them to help track the movements of suspects, not to intercept communications. However, by design the devices collaterally gather data on all people in a specific location—not just the suspects. That’s why rights groups claim Stingrays could be used to violate the privacy of “thousands of people.”

The document obtained by the ACLU, published Wednesday, adds a significant new dynamic to privacy advocates’ previous assertions that the use of the technology is in dubious legal territory. A chain of emails sent in 2011 from the office of the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, obtained by the civil liberties group under the Freedom of Information Act, shows crime division chief Miranda Kane noting that “many agents are still using [Stingray] technology in the field although the pen register application does not make that explicit.” “Pen register” is a term used to describe a type of surveillance that does not usually require a search warrant because it records only metadata—the who, where, and when of a communication but not the content. A June 2012 ruling in the Southern District of Texas found that Stingrays should require a warrant, with the judge concluding that “the government has not provided any support that the pen register statute applies to stingray equipment.”

The ACLU believes that the emails show “the government was engaged in a widespread practice of withholding important information for judges, and that it did so for years.” Linda Lye, staff attorney at ACLU, said in a blog post that “[b]y withholding information about this technology from courts in applications for electronic surveillance orders, the federal government is essentially seeking to write its own search warrants.”

Particularly notable in light of the new disclosures, at a Yale Law School discussion on tracking earlier this month, Brian Owsley, a Texas federal magistrate judge, suggested that the practice of the feds not making clear the planned use of a Stingray when seeking surveillance authorization could be widespread. “I may have seen them before and not realized what it was, because what they do is present an application that looks essentially like a pen register application,” Owsley said. “So any magistrate judge that is typically looking at a lot of pen register applications and not paying a lot of attention to the details may be signing an application that is authorizing a Stingray.”

A federal court case is currently ongoing in Arizona concerning the lawfulness of the FBI’s deployment of a Stingray to track a suspect suspected of conspiracy, wire fraud, and identity theft (U.S. v. Rigmaiden). The ACLU is a participant and plans to argue at a hearing scheduled for today that evidence gleaned using the surveillance tool should be suppressed. The group says it hopes that the court will send a “clear message to the government that it cannot keep judges in the dark.”

Separately, it emerged today that the FBI has failed in its attempt to delay the release of a vast trove of records relating to the Stingray as part of a Freedom of Information suit being pursued by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a civil liberties group. The FBI has acknowledged that it holds 25,000 pages of documents that relate to Stingray tools, about 6,000 of which are classified. The bureau was told by a district court judge in the District of Columbia that it has to release all records—except those exempt from disclosure on national security or other grounds—by Aug. 1.

The Justice Department declined to comment for this story.

Salisbury, NC Police Sergeant Fired for Reprimanding Officer in Front of Others

March 28, 2013

From The Charlotte Observer By Cameron Steele, MArch 28, 2013

A Salisbury police sergeant was fired Thursday for reprimanding an officer in front of colleagues.

The police chief notified Sgt. Rodney Mahaley by letter of his termination, citing Mahaley’s conduct toward an officer after that officer struck him with a round of simulation ammunition.

“The actions displayed by you are contrary to the department’s expectations of a supervisor,” chief Rory Collins wrote in the letter.

Few other details about the event were immediately available.

 

Murderer of Colorado Prison’s Chief was Member of Prison Gang

March 28, 2013

By P. SOLOMON BANDA and NICHOLAS RICCARDI | Associated Press, March 28, 2013

From a young age, no one could tame Evan Spencer Ebel.

Law enforcement officers bow their head during the memorial of Tom Clements. The public memorial for the chief executive of the Department of Corrections was held at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Monday, March 25, 2013. Tom Clements was shot and killed on the doorstep of his home last week in Monument, Colorado (AP Photo/The Gazette, Jerilee Bennett, Pool)

Associated Press/The Gazette, Jerilee Bennett, Pool – Law enforcement officers bow their head during the memorial of Tom Clements.

His parents sent him to special camps in Utah, Jamaica and Samoa for children with behavioral problems. Neighbors in the middle-class suburbs west of Denver shied away from a kid they described as “a handful.”

By age 20, state prison had become Ebel’s home. There, he joined a white supremacist gang and ended up in solitary confinement, a place his parents believe soon began to eat away at his already troubled mind.

On Jan. 28, when his term was up, Ebel was set free.

Two months later, he is dead after a shootout with Texas authorities and is a suspect in the death of Colorado’s state prisons chief, who was gunned down when he answered the front door of his house. Investigators have said the gun used to in the Texas shootout was the same weapon used to kill Colorado’s prisons chief.

Now investigators are trying to piece together whether the final actions of the 28-year-old sprung from his own ideas or came at the direction of a prison gang — an idea some close to him reject.

His mother, Jody Mangue, says her son was more complicated than news media stories imply.

“He was not a follower by any means,” she posted in an online memorial site, suggesting that white inmates are often labeled members of such gangs even if they don’t join.

The Colorado Independent website quoted a former inmate and member of the prison gang who said Ebel had left the group and was having a hard time integrating back into society.

“He told me that he needed to release some anxiety,” the former inmate, Ryan Pettigrew, told the website, adding the killing did not seem like a gang hit. “He needed that violence as a release so he could calm down. He didn’t know any other way.”

Ebel’s parents haven’t returned calls to The Associated Press for comment. But stories from both can be found in an online blog that those close to the family have confirmed the mother wrote, and legislative testimony from the father, who had begged the state to change its solitary confinement rules.

Mangue wrote that her son was an energetic child who accompanied his mother to hand out food and clothes to homeless people in Denver. That energy also was a problem, though. In an earlier online essay, written after visiting her son in prison, Mangue noted that she and Ebel’s father began sending their son to camps for troubled youth when he was 12.

“Some people may blame us for what has happened to Evan,” she wrote then. “I can only say that his dad and I had to make hard decisions when he was younger hoping to avoid where he is now.”

On Jan. 31, 2004, Ebel’s younger sister died in a traffic accident, devastating him.

“He was the protective big brother and in this case, was unable to protect her,” Mangue wrote. “His life deteriorated after that and he just became numb and lost his direction altogether, between using drugs and committing crimes.”

Court records show that Ebel pleaded guilty a few months after his sister’s death — in July 2004 — to holding a semi-automatic pistol to an acquaintance’s head and stealing his wallet while they watched a Denver Broncos game on television. He was first sent to a halfway house. But after being linked to two other armed robberies, he went to state prison.

Corrections officials won’t release detailed information about Ebel’s prison time, saying the case remains under investigation. But court records show that in 2006, he punched a prison guard in the nose and was convicted of assaulting a corrections official. He was sent to solitary confinement, where he did “Navy Seal type exercises” and read obsessively — including “War and Peace” several times over, Mangue wrote. Disgusted by prison chow, Ebel became a vegetarian.

Jack Ebel testified before Colorado’s Legislature about how solitary confinement changed his son.

“He’ll rant a little bit,” the elder Ebel told legislators. “He’ll stammer. He’ll be frustrated that he can’t find the words. And I let him get it out, and eventually, because I’m his father, he will talk to me. And I’m convinced, if any of the rest of you were to go talk to him, he wouldn’t be able to talk to you.”

Jack Ebel also mentioned his son’s suffering to Gov. John Hickenlooper, whom he first met when both men worked at an oil and gas firm 30 years ago. They’d stayed in touch even as Hickenlooper launched a career in politics and won the governor’s office in 2010.

As he assembled his cabinet, Hickenlooper wooed a deeply religious, data-driven Missouri corrections official to run Colorado’s state prisons system. During Hickenlooper’s interview with Tom Clements, the Missouri official mentioned his concerns about solitary confinement.

Since Clements came to Colorado in 2011, the number of inmates in solitary confinement has nearly been halved.

“The irony is incredible,” Hickenlooper said. “One of the things Tom fought for, we have too many people in solitary confinement with mental disorders, like Evan Ebel.”

In January, Ebel was released on mandatory parole — meaning that even though he’d completed his sentence, he still had to abide by a parole agreement or be thrown back in prison. Corrections spokeswoman Alison Morgan said she couldn’t discuss the terms of Ebel’s release but that every parolee has to comply with certain personalized requirements, like attending anger management or substance abuse counseling. She said the state also offers parolees help with housing and job placement.

Little is known about Ebel’s final two months. However investigators have offered a hint of how he might have gotten the gun used in Texas, even though he was a convicted felon who couldn’t legally have one. Colorado Bureau of Investigation agents on Wednesday arrested a suburban Denver woman suspected of legally purchasing a gun and then transferring it to Ebel. Records related to the arrest of Stevie Marie Vigil, 22, were sealed.

It’s unclear whether he knew of Clements’ reformist goals or just viewed him like many other inmates, as “The Man,” as they called whoever ran the prisons agency. It’s also unclear if he remained a member of the 211s white supremacist gang that law enforcement officials say he had joined in prison.

On Sunday, March 17, police found the body of Nathan Leon, a father of three who worked as a Domino’s deliveryman and had vanished after answering an order that day. Days later, Clements answered the doorbell at his house and was shot in the chest.

Authorities asked people to look out for a dark, late-model car that had been spotted idling outside Clements’ house shortly before the shooting. Two days later, a sheriff’s deputy in an empty stretch of North Texas pulled Ebel over. Ebel shot and wounded him, and sped off.

Authorities gave chase. Ebel peppered them with gunfire before crashing his 1991 Cadillac into an 18-wheeler hauling gravel near the town of Decatur.

Three deputies surrounded him, but he left his wrecked vehicle and opened fire. The deputies shot back. Ebel was hit in the head and died at a Fort Worth hospital. He had bomb-making equipment, instructions and other plans in his car, but it’s not clear where he was going.

One thing was clear, said Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins: “He wasn’t planning on being taken alive.”

Thomas Peipert, Colleen Slevin and Catherine Tsai in Denver and Angela K. Brown in Decatur, Texas contributed to this report.

Final Version of Arms Trade Treaty Released; Civilian Disarmament on Track

March 27, 2013

From The New American by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D., March 27, 2013

NEW YORK — Just before noon on Wednesday, Australian ambassador and president of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty conference, Peter Woolcott, released his final version of the global gun control agreement.

Final Version of Arms Trade Treaty Released; Civilian Disarmament on Track

Upon publication of the document, Woolcott informed delegates that they have 24 hours to confer with their respective governments and then report tomorrow for a final vote.

Apart from a couple of technical reviews by the drafting committee scheduled to be completed by 2:00 p.m., this is the last revision of the document, and Woolcott said nations must now “take it or leave it.”

For so many reasons, the United States delegation must choose the latter option. A few sections of the proposed agreement are provided below, each of which would require the federal government to unconstitutionally infringe upon the right of Americans to keep and bear arms as protected by the Second Amendment.

To begin, the Preamble of the Arms Trade Treaty points to the United Nations Charter as the source of guiding principles upon which the agreement is based. Citizens of the United States, however, recognize God as the source of all rights they enjoy. Not even the Constitution claims to be the giver of rights; it is merely the protector of them.

The ultimate American statement on the issue of the provenance of rights was written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The UN would see the Declaration of Independence replaced by the Declaration of Human Rights and would have the Creator replaced with government as the source of rights.

Another paragraph of the Arms Trade Treaty’s preamble grants the United Nations the power to authorize “end users” and “end use” of conventional arms.

Where in the Constitution is an unelected and unaccountable body of international bureaucrats given the right to determine who is or is not authorized to buy, sell, or trade weapons?

Next, the Arms Trade Treaty preamble reaffirms the “sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms.” The federal government has no right whatsoever to regulate or control conventional arms. While the governments of the 50 states of the United States may exercise such control as part of their police power, the Second Amendment explicitly forbids the federal government from infringing on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

Another provision declares “that civilians, particularly women and children, account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict and armed violence.”

While on its face potentially true, during the 20th century, hundreds of millions of women and children were killed in wars started by the governments of the world. These conflicts employed weapons not in the hands of civilians, but under the control of “legitimate regimes.”

Given that the Arms Trade Treaty specifically grants the UN and “state parties” exclusive control over the manufacture, purchase, possession, sale, trade, and transfer of weapons of every size — from handgun to intercontinental missile — how can it claim to be the best hope of protecting women and children from armed conflict? In fact, in nearly every case of mass killings by government, the people targeted were first disarmed, leaving all weapons in the hands of government, preventing the people from resisting the march of tyranny.

Article 2 of the treaty defines the scope of the treaty’s prohibitions. The right to own, buy, sell, trade, or transfer the following items is regulated by the terms of the treaty:

(a) Battle tanks;

(b) Armoured [sic] combat vehicles;

(c) Large-calibre [sic] artillery systems;

(d) Combat aircraft;

(e) Attack helicopters;

(f) Warships;

(g) Missiles and missile launchers; and

(h) Small arms and light weapons.

Article 3 places the “ammunition/munitions fired, launched or delivered by the conventional arms covered under Article 2” within the scope of the treaty’s prohibitions, as well.

As the representative of one pro-gun control organization told this reporter last week, “Guns without bullets are no deadlier than baseball bats.” The UN plans to eventually rid the world of privately owned weapons; failing to do that, however, they will prevent the purchase (or reloading) of ammunition.

Reports around the country reveal that shortages of ammunition are already leaving many without rounds to use in their lawfully owned firearms.

Article 4 rounds out the regulations, placing all “parts and components” of weapons within the scheme, as well.

Perhaps the most immediate threat to the rights of gun owners in the Arms Trade Treaty is found in Article 5. Under the title of “General Implementation,” Article 5 mandates that all countries participating in the treaty “shall establish and maintain a national control system, including a national control list.”

This list should “apply the provisions of this Treaty to the broadest range of conventional arms.”

Should the U.S. delegation vote in favor of this treaty (and President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have both signaled that they should), the federal government will be obligated to begin compiling a list of who owns, buys, sells, trades, or transfers any of the weapons included in the list provided above, as well as the ammunition, parts, and components of those weapons.

After creating this database, the federal government will be required under the provisions of Article 5(4) of the Arms Trade Treaty to “provide its national control list to the Secretariat, which shall make it available to other States Parties.”

That’s right. The UN demands that the list of gun and ammo owners not only be in the hands of our own government, but be sent to foreign regimes, as well.

Americans are right to recognize this registry as the first step toward confiscation.

Without such a registry, it would be impossible to monitor weapon transfers effectively because governments can’t track weapons exchanges and transfers unless they know who has them to begin with.

Article 12 adds to the record-keeping requirement, mandating that the list include “the quantity, value, model/type, authorized international transfers of conventional arms,” as well as the identity of the “end users” of these items.

In very clear terms, the Arms Trade Treaty will require that the federal government of the United States force gun owners to add their names to the national registry. Citizens will be required to report the amount and type of all firearms and ammunition they possess.

Section 4 of Article 12 requires that the list be kept for at least 10 years.

Finally, the agreement instructs governments to take “appropriate measures” to enforce the terms of the treaty. If they can’t seem to get it done on their own, however, Article 16 provides for UN assistance, specifically including help with the enforcement of “stockpile management, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.”

The conference will reconvene at UN headquarters tomorrow morning. Delegations will then vote on the treaty and report to their home governments. The New American will report from the scene of this historic event.

Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and is currently on assignment in New York to cover the Arms Trade Treaty conference.

Senators Cruz, Lee, and Paul Promise to Protect the Second Amendment

March 27, 2013

From The New American by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D., March 27, 2013

While the globalists at the United Nations confer on how best to disarm Americans, Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas, shown, left), Mike Lee (R-Utah, shown, center), and Rand Paul (R-Ky., shown, right) are standing up for the Second Amendment.

Senators Cruz, Lee, and Paul Promise to Protect the Second Amendment

The trio sent a letter on March 22 to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), informing him that they would oppose any legislation infringing on the constitutionally-protected right of Americans to keep and bear arms as set out in the Second Amendment.

The Senators say they “intend to refuse consent to adopt the motion to proceed and will decide if further action is necessary….” Although the word isn’t used in the letter, in legislative parlance “further action” signals their determination to mount another marathon filibuster should the Second Amendment be threatened by a gun control bill.

On his website, Senator Paul published the text of the letter to Reid:

Dear Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,

We, the undersigned, intend to oppose any legislation that would oppose on the American people’s constitutional right to bear arms, or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens’ right to self-defense. It speaks to history’s lesson that government cannot be in all places at all times, and history’s warning about the oppression of a government that tries.

We will oppose the motion to proceed to any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions.

Cruz posted a message on his website laying out his commitment to the cause of checking attacks on the Second Amendment.

Rather than restricting the rights of law-abiding Americans, we should be focusing on violent criminals. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has not made it a priority to stop violent criminals from acquiring firearms; for example, in 2010, out of more than 15,700 fugitives and felons who tried to illegally purchase a firearm, the Obama Justice Department prosecuted only 44.

As the Senate prepares to consider guns legislation, I remain committed to ensuring that Americans’ right to keep and bear arms is defended and upheld. Congress should not create new legislation restricting the rights of law-abiding Americans. The Democrats’ proposed legislation would require universal background checks for private sales between law-abiding citizens, which according to DOJ would be effective only if accompanied by a national gun registry. This raises serious constitutional issues, and would divert resources from prosecuting felons and fugitives who try to illegally purchase guns.

I am prepared to use any procedural means necessary to ensure that Congress does not pass any laws infringing on the Second Amendment, and look forward to working alongside Sens. Lee and Paul, and hopefully others, to protect our constitutional rights.

For his part, after Easter break, Reid plans to introduce a gun control bill calling for more thorough background checks and imposing stricter regulations on the sale, trade, and transfer of weapons across state lines.

Beyond those additional reductions of their Second Amendment rights, Americans are wary that introduction of such a bill will attract scores of amendments further infringing on those rights. That’s where the real damage could be done.

For example, Reid has announced that he will allow amendments to the gun control bill outlawing the sale of clips and magazines above a certain round capacity. And, although Senator Dianne Feinstein’s “assault weapons” bill died in committee, some form of the measure could still find its way into the larger legislation should it come to the floor.

Reid admits, however, that an “assault weapons” ban would cause gun control legislation to be stillborn in the Senate, as the votes won’t add up.

It’s doubtful Reid can convince enough of his colleagues to coalesce in numbers big enough to foil the Paul/Lee/Cruz filibuster. According to Senate rules, 60 votes are required to break up a filibuster.

Politico reports that Reid hopes for bipartisan support of the universal background checks bill being put forward by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) despite the lack of Republican support for the measure in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill ultimately passed out of committee on a party-line vote.

Undaunted, Reid insists that any bill given the green light must include more intrusive background checks. As quoted by Politico, Reid said:

But I want to be clear: In order to be effective, any bill that passes the Senate must include background checks. The bill I advance tonight will serve as the basis for opening debate. Once debate begins, I will ensure that a ban on assault weapons, limits to high-capacity magazines, and mental health provisions receive votes, along with other amendments. In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for all of these provisions to receive votes, and I will ensure that they do.

While such an attitude likely pleases the president, he has demonstrated that he will not be bound by constitutional restrictions on his authority and he will issue edicts in the absence of congressional action.

President Obama has allies in the Senate willing to use legislation to repeal the Second Amendment.

During an appearance on Wolf Blitzer’s “Situation Room,” Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said he supports the “real second amendment.”

“A lot of these senators believe that the second amendment is absolute,” Murphy said. “It’s not. I support the second amendment. I just support the real second amendment, and the real second amendment allows Congress and allows our community to put reasonable restrictions on the kind of guns that are available to people.”

Perhaps Murphy has a different copy of the Constitution. The plain language of the Constitution provides for no such congressional restrictions on the “kind of guns that are available to people. The Second Amendment reads:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The final four words of that amendment declare clearly that the federal government — whose powers are defined by the Constitution — shall not deprive the people of their right to defend themselves.

Despite the clarity of this guarantee, there is a tendency, even among conservatives, to assume that Congress can make some “reasonable restrictions” on the right to keep and bear arms.

While such restrictions may be within the police powers of state governments, the Constitution specifically forbids the federal government from making any movement in that direction. With that in mind, Americans must refuse to allow Congress, the president, or the courts to decrease the scope of this most fundamental right.

Perhaps the words of some imminent men of the past will help illuminate the true purpose of protecting the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

In commenting on the Constitution in 1833, Joseph Story wrote:

The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.

In his own commentary on the works of the influential jurist Blackstone, Founding-era legal scholar St. George Tucker wrote:

This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty…. The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.

Finally, the words of Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist, No. 28:

If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state.

April is looking to be an important month for gun rights. The massive gun grabbing bill is scheduled to be brought to the Senate floor sometime early that month, about the same time the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty would be presented to the Senate for ratification.

Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and is currently on assignment in New York to cover the Arms Trade Treaty conference.