Police Work, Politics and World Affairs, Football and the ongoing search for great Scotch Whiskey!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

This is one you don't get every day.....

Hey, gotta give her credit for trying.....

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

 Now there is the fun part of this. Where does she work:
Handcuffed woman accused of eating pot, troopers say 
Tavish Smith might be the happiest and friendliest arrestee we've seen in a while -- that is until a trooper caught her trying to eat a bag full of evidence. 
Her last-ditch effort to get rid of evidence was all caught on a Florida Highway Patrol squad car camera after she was pulled over for suspicion of DUI along U.S. 1 in Cocoa. 
She crashed her truck, drove the wrong way on U.S. 1, then crashed again, said the arrest report. By this time, the woman's not laughing. At the moment she eats the evidence, her misdemeanor charges for minor hit-and-run, DUI and marijuana possession bump up to a felony. 
"Bags of weed just don't go missing inside a police car," said the trooper. "And I've got it all on video." 
Smith denied everything and tried to hide what she was doing, but troopers said she had pot on her hands and face, and left crumbs everywhere. Troopers said there was enough evidence left in the bag to test it and prove it was marijuana. 
Smith posted bond and was released from jail. She has been suspended from her job as an employee for a Brevard County judge....
 This will not look good on a resume! :<)

Officer Down

Sergeant Paul Buckles
Potter County Texas Sheriff's Office
End of Watch: Friday, May 30, 2014
Age: 58
Tour: 26 years

Sergeant Paul Buckles collapsed while participating in an active shooter training exercise involving multiple agencies in the Canyon area.

He was treated on scene by other officers and EMTs before being transported to a local hospital, where he passed away.

Sergeant Buckles had served with the Potter County Sheriff's Office for 26 years and was assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Geopolitical Weekly: Geopolitical Journey, Part 2: Borderlands, June 3, 2014

Editor's Note: Stratfor's George Friedman is continuing his trip this week across the region, including the countries of Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Serbia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. This report on the same region was written in 2010, as he was returning from a similar journey that explored the geopolitical imperatives of those nations. The observations and forecasts then in many ways mirror the reality today, four years later.

By George Friedman
Founder and Chairman

A borderland is a region where history is constant: Everything is in flux. The countries we are visiting on this trip (Turkey, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Poland) occupy the borderland between Islam, Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity. Roman Catholic Hapsburg Austria struggled with the Islamic Ottoman Empire for centuries, with the Ottomans extending northwest until a climactic battle in Vienna in 1683. Beginning in the 18th century, Orthodox Russia expanded from the east, through Belarus and Ukraine. For more than two centuries, the belt of countries stretching from the Baltic to the Black seas was the borderland over which three empires fought.

There have been endless permutations here. The Cold War was the last clear-cut confrontation, pitting Russia against a Western Europe backed -- and to a great extent dominated -- by the United States. This belt of countries was firmly if informally within the Soviet empire. Now they are sovereign again. My interest in the region is to understand more clearly how the next iteration of regional geopolitics will play out. Russia is far more powerful than it was 10 years ago. The European Union is undergoing internal stress and Germany is recalculating its position. The United States is playing an uncertain and complex game. I want to understand how the semicircle of powers, from Turkey to Poland, are thinking about positioning themselves for the next iteration of the regional game.

I have been accused of thinking like an old Cold warrior. I don't think that's true. The Soviet Union has collapsed, and U.S. influence in Europe has declined. Whatever will come next will not be the Cold War. What I do not expect this to be is a region of perpetual peace. It has never been that before. It will not be that in the future. I want to understand the pattern of conflict that will occur in the future. But for that we need to begin in the past, not with the Cold War, but with World War I.

Regional Reshaping after World War I

World War I created a radically new architecture in this region. The Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires collapsed, the Russian empire was replaced by the Soviet Union, and the German empire was overthrown and replaced by a republic. No region in the world suffered more or was left more impoverished by the war than this region. Indeed, the war didn't end for them in 1918. It went on as the grip of empires reluctantly subsided and the new nations struggled within and among themselves.

The collapse of empires allowed a range of nations to emerge as independent nations. From the Baltic states to Bulgaria, nations became nation-states. Many of the borders and some of the nations were fixed by the victorious powers at Versailles and Trianon. They invented Yugoslavia, which means "land of the southern Slavs," out of a collection of hostile nations. They reshaped their borders. If France, Britain and the United States shaped the region, the Poles saved it.

The border between the Russian empire/Soviet Union and Europe is divided into two parts. The Carpathian Mountains form a rough boundary between the Russians and the rest of Europe from Slovakia to the south. These mountains are not particularly tall, but they are rugged, with scattered villages and few good roads. The Carpathians have belonged at various times to all of the countries in the region, but the Carpathians are not easily controlled. Even today, bandits rule parts of them. It is not impossible to move an army across it, but it is not easy, either.

The northern part of Europe is dominated by a vast plain stretching from France to Moscow. It is flat and marshy to the north but generally good terrain for armies to move on. Except for some river barriers, it is the route of Europe's conquerors. Napoleon moved along the plain to Moscow, as did Hitler (who moved across the Caucasus as well). Stalin returned the way Napoleon and Hitler came.

The Intermarium

Following World War I, Poland re-emerged as a sovereign nation. The Russians had capitulated to Germany in 1917 and signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918, which ceded a great deal of territory, including Ukraine, to Germany. With Germany's defeat, Brest-Litovsk lost its force and the Russians tried to regain what they had given away in that treaty. Part of that was Poland. In 1920, a climactic battle took place in Warsaw, when an army led by Polish Gen. Jozef Pilsudski, who had struck an alliance with Ukraine that couldn't work, blocked a Soviet invasion.

Pilsudski is an interesting figure, a reactionary in some ways, a radical in others. But it was his geopolitical vision that interests me. He was, above all else, a Polish nationalist, and he understood that Russia's defeat by Germany was the first step to an independent Poland. He also believed that Polish domination of Ukraine -- an ancient ploy -- would guarantee Poland's freedom after Germany was defeated. His attempt to ally with Ukraine failed. The Russians defeated the Ukrainians and turned on Poland. Pilsudski defeated them.

It is interesting to speculate about history if Pilsudski had lost Warsaw. The North European Plain was wide open, and the Soviets could have moved into Germany. Undoubtedly, the French would have moved to block them, but there was a powerful Communist Party in France that had little stomach for war. It could have played out many different ways had Pilsudski not stopped the Russians. But he did.

Pilsudski had another idea. Germany was in shambles, as was Russia, but both would be back. An alliance in place before they revived would, in Pilsudski's mind, save the region. His vision was something called the Intermarium -- an alliance of the nations between the seas built around Poland and including Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Finland and the Baltic states. This never came to be, but if it had, World War II may never have happened or could have played out in a different way. It is an idea that has been in my mind of late, thinking about what comes after NATO and ambitious concepts of European federation. Pilsudski's Intermarium makes a kind of logical if not historical sense. It is not historical because this borderland has always been the battleground for others. It has never formed together to determine its fate.

The Russian-German Relationship

In many ways, this matter doesn't rest in these states' hands. It depends partly on what Russia wants and plans to do and it depends on what Europe wants and plans to do. As always, the Intermarium is caught between Russia and Europe. There is no southern European power at the moment (the Austro-Hungarian empire is a memory), but in the north there is Germany, a country struggling to find its place in Europe and in history.

In many ways, Germany is the mystery. The 2008 and Greek economic crises shocked the Germans. They had seen the European Union as the solution to European nationalism and an instrument of prosperity. When the crisis struck, the Germans found that nationalism had reared its head in Germany as much as it had in other countries. The Germans didn't want to bail out the Greeks, and the entire question of the price and value of the European Union became a central issue in Germany. Germany has not thought of itself as a freestanding power since 1945. It is beginning to think that way again, and that could change everything, depending on where it goes.

One of the things it could change is German-Russian relations. At various times since 1871 and German re-unification, the Germans and Russians have been allies as well as mortal enemies. Right now, there is logic in closer German-Russian ties. Economically they complement and need each other. Russia exports raw materials; Germany exports technology. Neither cares to be pressured by the United States. Together they might be able to resist that pressure. There is a quiet romance under way between them.

And that rivets my attention on the countries I am visiting. For Poland, the specter of a German-Russian entente is a historical nightmare. The last time this happened, in 1939, Poland was torn apart and lost its sovereignty for 50 years. There is hardly a family in Poland who can't name their dead from that time. Of course, it is said that this time it would be different, that the Germans are no longer what they were and neither are the Russians. But geopolitics teaches that subjective inclinations do not erase historical patterns. Whatever the Poles think and say, they must be nervous although they are not admitting it. Admitting fear of Germany and Russia would be to admit distrust, and distrust is not permitted in modern Europe. Still, the Poles know history, and it will be good to see what they have to say -- or at least how they say it. And it is of the greatest importance to hear what they say, and don't say, about the United States under these circumstances.

Romania's Role

The Romanians are in a different position. The Romanians are buffered against the Russians by Ukraine and Moldova, and their sense of unease should be lower. Unlike the Poles and the North European Plain, they at least have the Carpathians running through their country. But what are we to make of Ukraine? Their government is pro-Russian and trapped by economic realities into strong Russian ties. Certainly, the increasingly German-led European Union is not going to come to their rescue. The question in Ukraine is whether their attempt to achieve complete independence is over, to be replaced by some informal but iron bond to Russia, or whether the Ukrainians still have room to maneuver. It seems from a distance that there is little room for them to breathe, let alone maneuver, but this is a question to be put to Ukrainians. They will, of course, vigorously assert their independence, but it will be important to listen to what is not said and what is answered by small shrugs and resignation. There is no more important question in Europe at the moment than the future of Ukraine.

For Romania, this is vital because its buffer could turn into its boundary if the Russians return to the border. This is why Moldova matters as well. Moldova used to be called Bessarabia. When Stalin made his deal with Hitler in 1939, part of the deal was that Bessarabia, then part of Romania, an ally of Germany, would be seized by the Soviets. This moved Romania farther from the port of Odessa, the critical port on the Black Sea, and across the Dniester River. Bessarabia remained part of the Soviet Union after the war. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Moldova became independent, stretching from Romania to the eastern bank of the Dniester. The area east of the Dniester, Transdniestria, promptly seceded from Moldova, with Russian help. Moldova became a Romanian-speaking buffer on the Dniester River.

Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. Its primary export is wine, sent mostly to Russia. The Russians have taken to blocking the export of wine for "health reasons." I think the health issue is geopolitical and not biological. If Moldova is an independent, pro-European state, Ukraine is less isolated than the Russians would like it to be. Moldova could, in the distant future, be a base for operations against Russian interests. Every inch that potential enemies are from Odessa is beneficial. There was a reason why Stalin wanted to take Bessarabia from Hitler. That consideration has not dissolved, and the Russians are acting to isolate and pressure Moldova right now and, with it, Romania.

My visit to Romania and Moldova is to try to get a sense of how they view the situation in Ukraine, what they think Russian intentions are and what they plan to do -- if anything. Romania is always a hard country to read. Geopolitically, its capital is on the wrong side of the Carpathians if the Russians are the threat, on the right side if Austria or Germany is the threat. Romania is oriented toward the European Union but is one of the many countries in the union that may not really belong there. Unlike the Poles, for whom history and resistance is a tradition, the Romanians accommodate themselves to the prevailing winds. It will be good to find out where they feel the winds are blowing from right now. I doubt that they will do anything to save Moldova and anger Moscow, but it is not clear whether Moldova is in danger. Still, this much is clear: If the Russians are reclaiming Ukraine, then Moldova is an important piece of territory, not only to protect Ukraine but also to create options toward Romania and southwestern Europe. Sometimes small pieces of land that are not on anyone's mind represent the test case.

Turkey is a place I have gone to several times in the past few years and expect to revisit many times. In my book, "The Next 100 Years," I argued that Turkey will be a great power in the next 50 years or so. I'm comfortable with my long-term prediction, but the next decade will be a period of transition for Turkey, from being one of the countries confronting the Soviets under the U.S. alliance system to being a resurgent power in its own right. It will be no one's pawn, and it will be asserting its interests beyond its borders. Indeed, as its power increases in the Balkans, Turkey will be one of the forces that countries like Romania will have to face.

I will be interested in hearing from the Romanians and Moldovans what their view of Turkey is at this point. Its re-emergence will be a slow process, with inevitable setbacks and disappointments, but even now its commercial influence can be felt in the Black Sea basin. I will be interested in hearing from the Turks how they view the Russians (and, of course, Iran and the Arab countries as well as Central Asia). Russia as seen through the eyes of its neighbors is the purpose of this trip, and that's the conversation I will want to have. Poles, Ukrainians, Romanians and Moldovans will all want to talk about Russia. The Turks will want to discuss many issues, Russia perhaps least of all. I will have to work hard to draw them out on this.

A Geopolitical Theory

In the end, I am going to the region with an analytic framework, a theory that I will want to test. It is a theory that argues that the post-Cold War world is ending. Russia is re-emerging in a historically recognizable form. Germany is just beginning the process of redefining itself in Europe, and the EU's weaknesses have become manifest. Turkey has already taken the first steps toward becoming a regional power. We are at the beginning of a period in which these forces play themselves out.

For the United States, Turkey's emergence is beneficial. The United States is ending its wars in the region, and Turkey is motivated to fill the vacuum left and combat radical Islam. Those who argue that the Turkish government is radically Islamist are simply wrong, for two reasons. First, Turkey is deeply divided, with the powerful heirs of the secular traditions of Kemal Ataturk on one side. They are too strong to have radical Islam imposed on them. Second, the Islamism of the Turkish government cannot possibly be compared to that of Saudi Arabia, for example. Islam comes in many hues, as does Christianity, and the Turkish version derives from Ottoman history. It is subtle, flexible and above all pragmatic. It derives from a history in which Turkish Islam was allied with Catholic Venice to dominate the Mediterranean. So Turkish Islam is not strong enough to impose itself on the secularists and too urbane to succumb to simplistic radicalism. It will do what it has to do, but helping al Qaeda is not on its agenda. Still, it will be good to talk to the secularists, who regard the current government with fear and distrust, and see whether they remain as brittle as ever.

While the United States can welcome a powerful Turkey, the same can't be said for a powerful Russia, particularly not one allied with Germany. The single greatest American fear should not be China or al Qaeda. It is the amalgamation of the European Peninsula's technology with Russia's natural resources. That would create a power that could challenge American primacy. That was what the 20th century was all about. The German-Russian relationship, however early and subdued it might be, must affect the United States.

It is not clear to me that the American leadership understands this. Washington's mind is an amalgam of post-Cold War cliches about Russia and Europe and an obsession with terrorism. This is not a time of clear strategic thinking in Washington. I find it irritating to go there, since they regard my views as alarmist and extreme while I find their views outmoded and simplistic. It's why I like Austin. I know that the Poles, for example, are deeply concerned that Washington doesn't understand the issues. But in the United States, Washington makes position papers and only rarely history. The United States is a vast nation, and Washington thinks of itself as its center, but it really isn't. The United States doesn't have a center. The pressures of the world and the public shape its actions, albeit reluctantly.

I have no power to shape anything, but for Washington to support Poland they need to be shown a path. In this case, I am going to explore the theory that Pilsudski brought to the table, of the Intermarium. I regard NATO as a bureaucracy overseeing an alliance whose mission was accomplished 20 years ago. From an American point of view, moving France or Germany is both impossible and pointless. They have their own interests and the wrong geography. It is the Intermarium -- Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and perhaps Bulgaria -- that represents this generation's alliance. It blocks the Russians, splits them from the Germans and gently limits Turkey's encroachment in southeastern Europe.

The Intermarium countries remain infatuated with the European Union and NATO, but the infatuation is declining. The year 2008 and Germany's indifference to these countries was not pleasant, and they are learning that NATO is history. The Poles must be the leader of the bloc and the Romanians the southern anchor. I think the Poles are thinking in these terms but the Romanians are far from this idea. I'm not sure. I want to find out. For me, a U.S.-backed Poland guarding the North European Plain, with Slovakia, Hungary and Romania guarding the Carpathian approaches, would prevent what the United States should fear the most: an alliance between Russia and Germany plus Western Europe. The key is the changing perception of the European Union in the Intermarium. I want to see how far this has come.

Nothing, of course, could be further from Washington's mind. Washington still thinks of Russia as the failed state of the 1990s. It simply doesn't take it seriously. It thinks of the European Union as having gone over a speed bump from which it will recover. But mostly, Washington thinks about Afghanistan. For completely understandable reasons, Afghanistan sucks up the bandwidth of Washington, allowing the rest of the world to maneuver as it wishes.

As I said, I have no power to shape anything. But it is the charm of the United States that powerlessness and obscurity is no bar to looking at the world and thinking of what will come next. I am not making strategy but examining geopolitical forces. I am not planning what should be but thinking about what will likely happen. But in doing this I need a reality check, and for this reality check I will start in Romania.

Geopolitical Journey, Part 2: Borderlands is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Officer Down

Police Officer Brian Jones
Norfolk Virginia Police Department
End of Watch: Friday, May 30, 2014
Age: 35
Tour: 5 years

Police Officer Brian Jones was shot and killed from ambush in the 7400 block of Wellington Road while investigating an earlier shooting.

Shortly before 11:00 pm the subject had been randomly firing his gun at citizens as he drove down Chesapeake Boulevard, killing a 17-year-old boy. A short time later Officer Jones located the vehicle parked outside of the subject's home on Wellington Road. An off duty officer responded to back him up and, while they were assessing the situation, the subject opened fire on them with a high powered rifle from inside his home.

Both officers were wounded in the gunfire. They were both transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital where Officer Jones succumbed to his wounds.

The subject fled the scene in his vehicle but was located by another officer. After the vehicle crashed the subject exited with a firearm and began struggling with the officer who pursued him. The subject was shot and killed during the ensuing struggle.

Officer Jones was a U.S. Navy veteran and had served with the Norfolk Police Department for five years. He was assigned to the Third Patrol Division. He was survived by his wife and three young children.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Security Weekly: Assessing Recent Militant Attacks in China, May 29, 2014

By Scott Stewart

Police in Xinjiang arrested five suspects and seized 1.8 tons of explosive material on May 26, according to Chinese media. The arrests and seizure were made in the city of Hotan in southwestern Xinjiang. Police said the suspects intended to build bombs to attack crowded locations in the city.

The operation in Hotan was reportedly connected to a yearlong nationwide counterterrorism operation recently launched by the Chinese government that was prompted by a string of terrorist attacks. These attacks have been simple, using edged weapons, small explosive devices and vehicles driven into soft targets such as the crowds outside train stations and markets. If the media report of 1.8 tons of explosives being seized is true, it would signify that someone was planning a much more spectacular attack. This would be unprecedented inside China, where the hallmark of the long-simmering Uighur militancy has been smaller attacks.

Recent Attacks

The arrests in Hotan came on the heels of the May 22 attack in Urumqi, Xinjiang, where assailants drove two off-road vehicles into an outdoor market near People's Park, tossing explosives into the crowd of morning shoppers before one of the vehicles exploded. The attack, which has yet to be claimed, killed 31 and injured scores more.

On April 30, a suicide bombing against a train station in Urumqi killed three and injured dozens. That attack was claimed by the Turkistan Islamic Party, which posted a video of the purported suicide bomb used in the attack being constructed, followed by a lengthy statement threatening additional attacks.

On March 1, eight knife-wielding assailants attacked people in the Kunming railway station in Yunnan, China. They ultimately killed 29 people and wounded 130. No group has claimed responsibility, but police showed the media a hand-painted black East Turkistan flag allegedly found at the scene, indicating the involvement of Uighur militants. (The Turkistan Islamic Party released a video praising the attack but did not claim responsibility for it.) The Kunming incident was significant not only in that it occurred in the remote Yunnan province, but also in that it targeted civilians rather than security forces, which had been the most common target in past Uighur militant attacks. The incident highlighted the possibility that Uighur militancy was continuing to expand its geographic reach.

At this point, it is unknown if the Kunming attack can be linked to the Xinjiang attacks, or even if the same group conducted the two recent Urumqi attacks. However, if all four events were related and can be connected to the same organization, it would have different implications than if they were conducted by independent organizations acting on central guidance or merely general principles.

Uighur Separatism

Uighur separatism has deep roots. Nationalistic sentiment is ingrained in the Uighurs by their ties to the historical broader Turkistan, which stretched through much of what is today Xinjiang (so-called "East Turkistan") and into Central Asia. The Qing Dynasty conquered East Turkistan in the mid-1700s and, after decades of struggle, China annexed the territory, renaming it Xinjiang, or "New Territories." A polity calling itself East Turkistan arose in Xinjiang amid the chaotic transition from imperial China to Communist rule, lasting for two brief periods from 1933 to 1934 and from 1944 to 1949. Since that time, Xinjiang has been, more or less, an integral part of the People's Republic of China.

Historically, Chinese security forces have been fairly heavy-handed in their efforts to keep Uighur separatism in check -- in part out of the fear, often justified throughout the Cold War period, that local separatist movements enjoyed the backing and support of the Soviet Union (or the United States in the case of Tibet) and thus represented a strategic threat to Han Chinese rule, not just mere internal dissent.

The persecution experienced by the Uighurs has not been unlike that experienced by Tibetan nationalists, and many Uighur separatists have been imprisoned or have fled into exile. Some non-violent separatists have undertaken political action for their cause from the United States, Europe, Turkey and Central Asia. Many militant Uighur separatists have also migrated to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they have found refuge, training and support from groups such as the Taliban, al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

Indeed, militant Uighurs have had a long history of collaboration with the international jihadist movement. For example, shortly after Hasan Mahsum founded the East Turkistan Islamic Movement in 1997, he moved it to Kabul, where he enjoyed the protection of the Taliban, and came into contact with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Mahsum was killed by the Pakistani military during a raid on an al Qaeda facility in South Waziristan in 2003.

Mahsum was not the only high-profile Uighur militant to have contact with al Qaeda and other jihadist groups. Abdul Haq al-Turkistani, the leader of the Turkistan Islamic Party, was also a member of al Qaeda's executive leadership council and was designated as an international terrorist by the U.S. government and the United Nations. Haq was killed in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan in February 2010. Another leader, Abdul Shakoor al-Turkistani, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in August 2012 along with three of his deputies. Shakoor was also closely aligned with al Qaeda, and reportedly commanded al Qaeda's forces in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

The alignment of the Turkistan Islamic Party and figures such as Mahsum, Haq, Shakoor and the party's current emir, Abdullah Mansour, with the global jihadist movement has been reflected in their Arabic-language magazine "Islamic Turkistan" and in videos released via the organization's media arm, Islam Awazi. In the video claiming responsibility for the April 30 attack in Urumqi, Mansour began speaking in Arabic before switching to Uighur. The video feels similar to those released by al Qaeda, with similar religious content.


With the Pakistani military currently conducting a military offensive in North Waziristan, it is quite possible that many of the transnational militants sheltered there will be forced to flee. Some of these foreign fighters could move across the border into Afghanistan, as the U.S. military presence there has been significantly reduced and may be eliminated entirely, though many in the region are concerned that these fighters will return home to wage a wider regional jihad once the Americans leave Afghanistan.

We are looking into whether the recent attacks in China resulted from a flow of militants returning to Xinjiang from places like Pakistan or whether they have somehow been coordinated by planners in Pakistan. The tactics involved in the recent attacks were not all that complex and would not require any sort of external planning if there were groups of local militants who had been radicalized and decided to conduct such attacks.

As noted above, the Uighurs have long conducted simple attacks inside China. In fact, many of their attacks resemble the types regularly featured in the Open Source Jihad section of al Qaeda's Inspire Magazine. For example, last week's attack in Urumqi using off-road vehicles and small explosive devices was similar to the tactics outlined in the Open Source Jihad sections of the first two editions of Inspire. However, due to the constraints of operating in an environment as hostile as China, the Uighurs were using these types of attacks well before Inspire Magazine was founded in 2010. For example, in August 2008, two Uighur militants in Kashgar drove a dump truck into a formation of police who were running on the road. The militants then reportedly stormed the police barracks, throwing two explosive devices and attacking officers with knives before being shot dead. That attack killed 16 police officers.

If isolated, simple attacks by Uighur militants will not pose a strategic threat to the Chinese government and its control over Xinjiang. Indeed, there has been a long history of isolated attacks involving Uighurs. However, if the recent attacks were coordinated and the beginning of an orchestrated campaign with a higher operational tempo than we've seen in the past, they could pose a much more acute threat by sowing fear in the population and eroding confidence in the government's ability to ensure stability. From time to time, Uighur militants have attempted to launch sustained campaigns, but crackdowns by the Chinese authorities have been able to end them.

A professional terrorist cadre returning to Xinjiang from Pakistan could perhaps make a bit of an impact if it conducted attacks itself, but its numbers would soon be exhausted -- especially if it was involved in suicide attacks. The Pakistani government estimates there are only around 400 Uighur militants in Pakistan's badlands. However, the same number of militants could up the ante considerably if they were able to establish bases (or even small cells) in Xinjiang for recruiting and training locals for additional terror attacks, thus multiplying their manpower and passing on knowledge and skills obtained in Pakistan and elsewhere. It will thus be important to watch reports from the region carefully to determine if the militants involved in recent attacks were local grassroots-type operatives, more professional operatives who had returned from Pakistan, or locals trained by professionals.

Of course, establishing cells to conduct sustained operations inside China will prove to be a challenge due to the Chinese government's intelligence and law enforcement operations. The terrain and security operations have also made it difficult for Uighur cadres in Pakistan to communicate with personnel in Xinjiang or to smuggle weapons into the region. The Chinese take this threat very seriously, as seen by their recently launched operation to round up hundreds of suspected militants.

The reports from the region that Chinese police seized 1.8 tons of explosives during the takedown in Hotan are likely very troubling for Beijing. There have been previous attacks in Hotan by militant Uighurs. For example, in July 2011, a group of 18 Uighur militants armed with knives and small improvised explosive devices seized a police station in the city after killing two security officers. The standoff ended when police stormed the building, but two of the eight hostages taken by the militants were killed. Fourteen attackers were killed in the assault, and four others were arrested. But such past attacks would be dwarfed by an attack using a very large truck bomb or several car bombs with nearly two tons of explosives, especially if the militants planned to use the devices against crowds.

China is not used to dealing with attacks of that magnitude, and as seen by large attacks elsewhere, very few countries are prepared for them. One of the ways the Chinese government has limited the size of Uighur attacks has been through its policy of aggressively targeting potential terrorist subjects. According to human rights groups, the Chinese are sometimes a little too aggressive, often arresting innocent people. As seen in places like Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, draconian crackdowns have limits, especially when underlying grievances are ignored. Such approaches can even create more radicals rather than defuse the situation, which is why countries such as Saudi Arabia have launched de-radicalization programs to help reintegrate militants back into society. As China launches this new counterterrorism program, it will be very important to see if it creates more problems than it solves.

There are many unanswered questions regarding this subject, and it will be difficult to forecast the trajectory of Uighur militancy in China until some of them are answered. Given the limits placed on media reporting from China, especially from Xinjiang, combined with the Chinese government's efforts to obfuscate this issue and label all Uighur separatists as terrorists, the picture will remain murky. Unfortunately, this means that we will likely have to wait until there are additional attacks to begin to look for clues that will help us answer some of these questions and help our readers and clients in China better understand what the implications of Uighur militancy are for them.

Assessing Recent Militant Attacks in China is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Officer Down

Special Deputy Marshal Frank McKnight
United States Marshals Service
End of Watch: Thursday, May 29, 2014
Age: 69
Tour: 38 years
Incident Date: 5/28/2014
Special Deputy Marshal Frank McKnight succumbed to injuries sustained the previous day when he was struck by a transit bus outside of the U.S. District Courthouse in Providence, Rhode Island.

He was on duty and using a crosswalk between the courthouse and the John O. Pastore Building when the bus attempted a left turn and struck him. He was transported Rhode Island Hospital where succumbed to his injuries.

Deputy Marshal was a Rhode Island National Guard veteran and had served with the United States Marshals Service as a court security officer for 13 years. He had previously retired from the North Kingstown Police Department as a lieutenant with 25 years of service.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

This woman really needs her head out of her ass.....

I have a good friend and she's a vegan. Like pilots and Mac users, you know they are because they will tell you within 30 seconds of meeting you. And I have no issue with that. You want to only eat veggies, cool, that's more charred animal flesh for me.

But I also know babies need animal milk for initial growth. At some point later you can wean the child off of meat based protean (like mother's milk) but not before the kids out of diapers. And no matter what, if the child needs emergency medical treatment (and dehydration counts), get them to the doctor and worry about his diet later.

Just read:
Casselberry mom refused to take child to hospital over vegan beliefs

A Casselberry mother was arrested on allegations of refusing to take her newborn, diagnosed by a doctor as dehydrated, to a hospital because of her staunch vegan stance.

Sarah Anne Markham was arrested Tuesday on a charge of child neglect.

According to Casselberry police, a pediatrician told Markham that her baby needed to be admitted to Florida Hospital South for treatment because the child was dehydrated and was losing weight.

Markham, however, went home and would not answer when officers knocked at her door.

Police used a locksmith to enter the apartment and interviewed Markham, who said she wanted to get a second opinion about her child, according to a police report.

Police said Markham told them that she wanted to pursue a religious-based treatment and did not believe that her baby was dehydrated because the child was having bowel movements.

Markham said she had contacted a "natural" or "vegan" doctor but was unable to provide any information about him, other than a name.

Markham said she did not give the formula/medicine that the doctor provided because she did not agree with the ingredients, which she said came from animals, the police report stated.

Markham said she purchased organic soy formula, and when asked if she confirmed with a doctor if it was safe for a newborn, she said that if Whole Foods Market sells it then the formula doesn't contain any animal parts and, therefore, must be safe, according to police...
Ms Markham, you want to harm yourself, fine.  Remember, you have a kid to take care of.  

Officer Down

Trooper Christopher Skinner
New York State Police
End of Watch: Thursday, May 29, 2014
Age: 42
Tour: 13 years
Badge # 4682

Trooper Christopher Skinner was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver on I-81 in Broome County.

He was conducting a traffic stop just north of Exit 6, between Chenango Bridge and Castle Creek, when he was intentionally struck by a vehicle that crossed two lanes of traffic.

The subject who struck him continued driving up the interstate until stopping and running into the woods. He was apprehended approximately one hour later following a search of the area.

Trooper Skinner had served with the New York State Police for 13 years and was assigned to the Traffic Incident Management. He was survived by three children, mother, brother, and fiance.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Three Observations of the SCOTUS ruling today on cell phones...

I can see why SCOTUS ruled today, but I have my disagreement with it. The Constitution says nothing about cell phones. Therefore the legislature should set guidance on how police should handle this, but that's OBE. Now PoliceOne has a quick look at what cops need to know about the ruling. You can read the whole article but here are the highlights.
The Court's decision on cell phone searches: 3 things cops need to know

The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the search incident to arrest of an arrestee’s cell phone is not permissible without a warrant — except in specific emergency circumstances such as “child abduction and the threat of bombs being detonated.”...

...The decision stated that while cell phones “have become important tools in facilitating coordination and communication among members of criminal enterprises” and have the potential to “provide valuable incriminating information about dangerous criminals,” the devices are so powerful and contain so much personal information that they fall under the protection of the Fourth Amendment...

...Observation #1: In exigent circumstances such as immediate officer safety or the safety of innocent persons (per SCOTUS, child abduction, bomb threat), officers can conduct a search and be prepared explain those actions later in court...

...PoliceOne Contributor Morris Greenberg added, “This decision doesn’t preclude law enforcement of seizing a cell phone as evidence — it only precludes a warrantless search absent exigent circumstance. If articulable exigency exists, law enforcement can still search the phone without a warrant. Officers must then, of course, be prepared to defend that search in court.”

...Observations #2: Taking the time to get a search warrant for a cell phone not only protects personal privacy, but ultimately also serves to ensure that an officer’s search of a subject’s phone is not tossed out on a ‘technicality’

“The big thing is the timeliness of accessing the information on a phone,” Greenberg explained. “Stop and think about it, though. Most criminals are smart enough to password protect their phones, so the average officer rarely has immediate access to data on the phone to begin with. So timeliness is an issue either way.”

Greenberg said even before today’s decision, he believed that investigators should obtain search warrants to review and use the content of a cell phone...

...Observation # 3: In the 21st Century, the legal system will not treat cell phones as merely phones, but as Chief Justice Roberts said, they are “a digital record of nearly every aspect of [a person’s life] — from the mundane to the intimate” that can also make phone calls

Comparing a cell phone to a crumpled cigarette pack found in arrestee’s pocket (Robinson), paint chips found on arrestee’s clothing (Edwards), or the contents of a locked footlocker (Chadwick) is preposterous on its face. The typical smartphone has vastly more computing power than all of NASA’s computers combined when Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 45 years ago, and Moore’s Law states that this time next year, those phones will be exponentially more powerful....

...Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “One of the most notable distinguishing features of modern cell phones is their immense storage capacity. Before cell phones, a search of a person was limited by physical realities and tended as a general matter to constitute only a narrow intrusion on privacy... Most people cannot lug around every piece of mail they have received for the past several months, every picture they have taken, or every book or article they have read — nor would they have any reason to attempt to do so.”

Roberts concluded, “Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans ‘the privacies of life...’ The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought.

“Our answer,” wrote Roberts, “to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant.”

It's early in this process so more will come out. Basically, just get a warrant to cover your ass.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Officer Down

Border Patrol Agent Alexander Giannini
United States Border Patrol
End of Watch: Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Age: 25
Tour: 5 years
Badge # W186

Border Patrol Agent Alexander Giannini was killed in an automobile accident on I-10, near Sybil Road, near Benson, Arizona, shortly after 7:30 am.

Agent Giannini and another agent were traveling eastbound on I-10 when their vehicle was involved in a collision. Agent Giannini was flown to University Medical Center in Tucson, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Agent Giannini had served with the United States Border Patrol for five years and was assigned to the Willcox Station. He was survived by his parents, sister, and fiancee.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

An interesting punishment

The issue here, IMHO, is not the punishment. He could have spent five years in jail for failing to pay child support but he agreed to have a vasectomy to avoid a good hunk of that. And a vasectomy is not like castration, it's not mutating the body. But it's preventing him from impregnating other women and leaving more children without a father. And that is the issue.

This POS has no issue with sex without consequence and leaving women to raise his children alone. There is a growing subculture where young males (I refuse to call them men) see no obligation with raising, or even supporting the children they father. Or straddling the women with chidden they will have problems raising.

If this punishment insures Mr Herald never spreads his seed further, more women will not be left with children they will have to raise alone. Sounds just to me. Comments?
Vasectomy or jail: A Virginia man’s choice

Last month, an Ohio appeals court upheld a decision barring Asim Taylor from having more children until he paid nearly $100,000 in overdue child support for the ones he already has. He had been put on probation for five years — and forbidden from reproducing during that time.

Now there’s Jessie Lee Herald — a 27-year-old Virginia man who allegedly fathered seven children with six different women. And, as part of a plea deal that will shorten by up to five years his prison term in a child endangerment case, he agreed to get a vasectomy.

Shenandoah County Assistant Prosecutor Ilona White said her motive in making the deal was to keep him from fathering more children.

“He needs to be able to support the children he already has when he gets out,” she said, according to the Associated Press.

Herald was sentenced this month to 20 months in prison for child endangerment, hit and run and driving on a suspended license in a crash in which police said his 3-year-old son was bloodied but okay, the AP said.

The agreement, offered earlier this month, states Herald must have the procedure within a year of his release. It also states that he cannot reverse the vasectomy while he is on probation. And he will have to pay for it.

But some argue that this unusual plea agreement is reminiscent of the 20th century’s eugenics programs in which a handful of states forcibly performed surgical sterilizations on thousands deemed genetically inferior.

“This takes on the appearance of social engineering,” Steve Benjamin of Richmond, past president of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, told the AP.

White disputed any suggestion that the deal has similarities to eugenics.

“I would never agree with that line of thinking. That was nowhere in my thought process,” White told the AP....

That is a wrong comparison. Unlike the mentally retarded women who were subject to involuntary hysterectomy in the early 1900s, he can have the procedure reversed. And he doesn't have to take the vasectomy, he can simply serve the full term. But the needs of society are better served in knowing Mr Herald cannot spawn anymore.

Officer Down

Police Officer Jair Cabrera
Salt River Police Department, Tribal Police
End of Watch: Saturday, May 24, 2014
Age: 37
Tour: 7 years

Police Officer Jair Cabrera was shot and killed while making a traffic stop near the intersection of Chaparral Road and Pima Road, on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, at 3:05 am.

The vehicle pulled into a gas station near the border with Scottsdale city. A subject armed with a rifle exited the car, steadied the rifle on the roof, and opened fire. Officer Cabrera was struck in the head by one of the rounds before he exited his patrol car. Three subjects fled the scene on foot but were all apprehended.

Officer Cabrera was transported to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Officer Cabrera had served for seven years with the Salt River Police Department. He was survived by his parents, brother, and girlfriend.

Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The WatchDay is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh.

Geopolitical Weekly: Borderlands: First Moves in Romania, May 27, 2014

By George Friedman

I arrived in Bucharest, Romania, the day after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will be here in a few weeks. The talk in Bucharest, not only among the leadership but also among the public, is about Ukraine. Concerns are palpable, and they are not only about the Russians. They are also about NATO, the European Union, the United States and whether they will all support Romania if it resists Russia. The other side of the equation, of course, is whether Romania will do the things it must do in order to make outside support effective. Biden left Romania with a sense that the United States is in the game. But this is not a region that trusts easily. The first step was easy. The rest become harder.

If this little Cold War becomes significant, there are two European countries that matter the most: Poland and Romania. Poland, which I visit next, stands between Germany and Russia on the long, flat North European plain. Its population is about 38 million people. Romania, to the south, standing behind the Prut River and bisected by the Carpathian Mountains, has a population of about 20 million. Of the roughly 82 million people along the eastern frontier (Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria), approximately 58 million live in Poland and Romania. Biden's visit to Romania and U.S. President Barack Obama's planned visit to Poland provide a sense of how Washington looks at the region and, for the moment at least, the world. How all of this plays out is, of course, dependent on the Russians and the course of the Ukrainian crisis.

All Soviet satellites emerged damaged after the collapse of the old order in 1989. Few were as damaged as Romania. In many ways, the damage was self-inflicted: The villain of the piece was a Romanian, Nicolae Ceausescu. Ceausescu followed an anti-Soviet line, staying in the Warsaw Pact but displaying singular hostility to the Soviet Union. I recall Americans being excited about Ceausescu's Romania since, being anti-Soviet, it was assumed that by definition he had to be pro-American. To America's amazement, he wasn't. He wasn't even pro-Romanian given that he concocted a scheme to pay off all of Romania's foreign debts by destroying the lives of a generation of Romanians by consigning the vast majority of the country's agricultural and industrial production to hard currency exports. Beyond that, he created a nightmarish security system that was both corrupt and vicious. The world barely noticed. When the end came, it also came for Ceausescu and his wife, the only Eastern European leaders to be executed (amid intense fighting between factions).

For all that, Romania has done remarkably well. Romania's unemployment rate is only about 7 percent, which by European standards is remarkably low. Its annual growth rate stands at more than 3 percent, which is conversely high. In talking to Romanians, it is hard to see into their hearts. They seem a gracious and friendly people, with a measure of distrust and a taste for conspiracy no greater than the norm for this region. What is remarkable about the Romanians is that they are unremarkable. They have emerged from a nightmare inflicted by one of their own and have regained their balance.

Ceausescu aside, the nightmare was initiated by the Soviets, who were drawn in by the Germans. This has resulted in a lasting national trait: When the Russians act, it strikes fear deep into the Romanian heart. When the Russians act and the Germans have a hand in the action, the Romanians' worst nightmare is realized. Their reaction doesn't manifest itself as with the Poles, who are always committed to the decisive confrontation. Instead, the nightmare scenario elicits a more cautious and sinewy response involving the search for a way both to resist and if necessary to accommodate. Above all, it elicits a search for allies, preferably far enough away not to occupy them and strong enough to offer meaningful support. Obviously, the Americans are tailor-made for this role, so long as they don't overstep their bounds and generate fears of domination.

The Ukrainian Factor

Events in Ukraine have, of course, set this process in motion. Remarkably, the United States, which remained a bystander other times, has gotten quickly and significantly involved this time around. There is no question in Romania as to the importance of Ukraine to Russia, nor any belief that the Russians will let go of it. My view is that Russia will not let go, but will let things quiet down a bit. The Russian gamble is that no matter what the outcome of Ukraine's elections, the Ukrainians will be unable to form a coherent government. If that is true, then the Russians can pick the Ukrainians apart over time, returning to the status quo ante. Therefore, the Russians will wait. Time, if this view is correct, is on the Russians' side.

The Russians do not want to be excessively aggressive for another reason: namely, Germany. The Germans do not want to go beyond occasional rhetoric in confronting Russia. In fact, they don't want to confront Russia at all. They want to do business with Russia. I heard several times that the Germans have already opted to align themselves with Russia for commercial reasons. In my view, German policy is moving in that direction, but the deal is not yet sealed. In the same way that Russian President Vladimir Putin rushed to China to gain at least the appearance of strategic options, so, too, Putin wants as deep a relationship with Germany as he can get. He will not be excessively and overtly aggressive until and unless he must be. The Germans cannot be seen as simply abandoning their European allies, and Putin cannot put them in that position.

The Russians want to quiet Ukraine down for another reason. Crises galvanize Americans to act rapidly, and frequently, effectively. Crises that are dying down cause the Americans to pause and consider the direction of events. As Biden's visit to Romania indicated, Washington moves fast in crisis mode. The Russians can control the tempo of American actions by cooling things down in Ukraine -- or so they think. And this is precisely what worries the Romanians. They see themselves as having a long-term Russian problem. At the moment, they are making a large bet that the Americans will follow through on their commitments and interest even as the Russians dial down the immediate crisis.

Fairly or not, the Romanians see the Obama administration as insufficiently engaged and heedless of the dangers the Russians pose. They also see the administration as intensely critical of Romania's culture of corruption -- which the Romanians admit is a problem -- but intensely interested in military and political coordination. They understand the United States, which is what worries them. On the one hand, they will be courted intensely by the vice president only to be condemned by the State Department, and expected to expose themselves to Russian retaliation. I tried to explain the complexities of being American. The Romanians' sympathy was restrained. They think they heard a real commitment from the American side, but they simply don't know how genuine it is.

In the course of various conversations I tried to explain my view of the situation. The United States has a pattern of engagement in Europe. It postpones intervention to the last moment, builds alliance structures, supports allies with economic and military aid, and then waits until late in the game to intervene, always hoping it won't have to. Biden's and Hagel's visits are part of the process of creating a regional bloc to contain the Russians and to establish a framework for military aid. Intervention comes much later, if ever.

The Romanians are more comfortable with this than the Poles are, who have asked for 10,000 NATO troops on their territory. The Romanians have no such expectations. They are also prepared to increase their defense budget to 2 percent of gross domestic product, which is significant for Europe these days. But they expect the United States to help finance the cost of the weapons they need to purchase. Expecting credit when facing the Russians, however, is no more reasonable than subjecting a country to State Department criticism while the Defense Department is urging risk taking. The Romanians ultimately feel that the U.S. intent isn't clear.

U.S. Goals

The American intent at this point is to maintain an independent, pro-Western Ukraine. That might simply not be possible. But the problem is that in having this goal, and pursuing it to some effect, the United States has convinced the Russians that it intends to break the Russian Federation by denying it an essential sphere of influence. The Russians have now concluded that whatever happens in this round in Ukraine, this process will not end.

Whatever the American thoughts initially, they are realizing that the Russian threat to Ukraine is permanent, and that whatever happens in Ukraine, it will extend to countries like Romania. And Romania particularly matters to the Russians for two reasons. First, Romania is on the Black Sea, and the Black Sea is Russia's southern maritime access to the world. That's why they had to hold Sevastopol, and that's why Odessa mattered so much. The Russians are aware that they need access to the Bosporus, controlled by the Turks. Still, American aircraft in Romania and Romanian ships in the Black Sea could complicate the Russians' lives substantially, including their power in the Caucasus, since Georgia is on the Black Sea as well. It should be noted that boosting naval power is on the Romanian-American agenda, and both countries understand the challenge this creates for Russia.

The second challenge is that Romania is potentially capable of producing significant hydrocarbons, including oil. The Russians' only real card in this game is their energy sales to Europe. If they withhold it, the pressure is enormous and that economic pressure can be converted to political power. Germany's attitude is influenced by several things, but energy dependence is certainly one of the main ones.

There is no simple energy alternative to Russia, but one can be cobbled together from several sources, if not to replace Russian energy then to mitigate its power. Romania has energy and other resources to contribute to this, and the public statement issued by the United States and Romania included a commitment by Romania to focus on energy production as a critical element of the partnership. This is not as easy as it sounds. Romania has a reputation abroad for enormous complexity and unreliability in its permitting process.

This is another point where Romania's new strategy intersects with Russian interests. The Romanian view is that the Russians are extending their influence throughout the region, but particularly in Romania. They do it by the traditional means of using their intelligence services to try to manipulate the political process in Romania. As important, they can use commercial relations to weave networks of influence that are designed to make it costly for Romania to resist the Russians. The Russians are particularly adept at using Gazprom, its subsidiaries and other Russian energy companies to purchase and invest in Romanian and regional companies. The deals are never unattractive to either side in business terms, but they also serve to put the Russians in a position to shape both energy policy and political dynamics. This what I call commercial imperialism: the use of deals, particularly in energy, to create blocking points within the political system when Russian interests are threatened. This is not confined to Romania; the Russians use this tool to shape the behavior of other countries. Though certainly far less unpleasant than Soviet occupation, it nevertheless poses a challenge to U.S. influence.

Moldova, Energy and Russian Subtlety

There is another dimension to all of this, namely, Moldova. Moldova is ethnically Romanian but has been dominated by the Soviet Union and before that the Russian Empire. It is a place that survives by its wits and by accommodating Russian influence. It is an important place in the sense that if it were to be occupied by the Russians, Moscow would have access to the Prut River, with only a plain between it and Bucharest. If Moldova were to join Romania, then NATO would be on the Dniester River, less than a hundred miles from Odessa.

But such calculations matter only in wartime, and the Russians are inherently weak. Their single advantage is energy exports, and that advantage depends on the world price of oil, where they make their real profits. They do not control that price and in the future it is possible that the United States, suddenly a massive producer of oil, will be pushing the price downward. If that happens, there is little left for them.

But that won't happen for a couple of years, if it happens at all. And the full strength of the United States will not be at Romania's call for a few years, if it does become available. And Romania's obligation to produce energy won't manifest itself for a couple of years. So here in southeastern Europe, the Russians have a window of opportunity to create a framework that can withstand the winter that is coming.

They cannot live without Ukraine. They cannot take Romania. With or without the Americans, the Russians aren't strong enough for that. What they can do is manipulate, subvert, confuse and deflect. They need to undermine the Romanian entente with the United States, and they are skilled at the political maneuvering needed to do that. To many in Romania, Russia is near and strong, America far and indecisive. This was pointed out to me at one meeting. I replied: "In the 20th century, the United States has won three wars in Europe. How many have the Romanians won?"

The most remarkable thing about Romania and even Europe as a whole is that in spite of the historical reality that the United States wins European wars, there is a view of the United States that it is naive, unfocused and bumbling. This goes beyond this administration to every administration I can recall. And yet, it is the United States that decides the fate of Europe consistently.

The Romanians know this, but they still feel that the Russians are more clever and capable than the United States. I think the reason is that the Russians move with enormous subtlety and complexity. They do this to compensate for their weakness. The United States operates more simply. It can afford to; it is playing from strength. For now, the Romanians accept this, but their acceptance is fragile. It depends on political consistency on the part of the United States, but with great distance come options and the ability to change one's mind. Romania is here and can't go elsewhere. It can only change alliances and hope for the best, something both sides need to consider.
Borderlands: First Moves in Romania is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Officer Down

Correctional Officer Chad Charles
Michigan Department of Corrections
End of Watch: Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Age: 42
Tour: 9 years

Correctional Officer Chad Charles suffered a fatal heart attack while participating in a quarterly training exercise with the agency's Emergency Response Team at Camp Grayling.

He collapsed during a building clearing scenario. Other members of the ERT team performed CPR until he was transported to a local hospital, where he passed away.

Officer Charles had served with the Michigan Department of Corrections for nine years and was assigned to the Muskegon Correctional Facility.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The WatchDay is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh.

Officer Down

Deputy Sheriff Cruz Thomas
Franklin County Georgia Sheriff's Office
End of Watch: Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Age: 26

Deputy Sheriff Cruz Thomas was killed in a vehicle crash on I-85 while attempting to catch a traffic violator at approximately 9:00 pm.

A tractor trailer traveling in the same direction attempted to change lanes, causing Deputy Thomas' vehicle to leave the highway, overturn, and strike several trees. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Deputy Cruz's father serves as the sheriff of Franklin County. Deputy Cruz also served with the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch
Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh.

Security Weekly: In Syria, Militants Revive Kidnapping for Ransom , May 21, 2014

By Ashley Lindsey

A multitude of rebel brigades with disparate ideologies, religious interpretations, leaders and foreign patrons are fighting against the Syrian regime. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is one such force, having grown more prominent since it announced its entrance onto the Syrian battlefield in 2013. Not only has the group distinguished itself militarily, it is also one of the only transnational groups fighting in Syria and it adheres to a strict Salafist-jihadist ideology that causes its tactics, terms of governance and proclaimed goals to differ greatly from those of most other rebel brigades. As we have discussed before, the tactics used by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant are much more austere than those of its counterparts, and focus more on the group's overarching aspirations to establish an Islamic emirate in the Levant and control vast swaths of territory rather than on merely defeating loyalist forces and overthrowing Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

One specific aspect that sets the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant apart from most other rebel brigades is its adoption of the tactic of kidnapping foreigners for ransom inside Syria. On April 19, Turkish soldiers found four French journalists blindfolded and with their hands bound on the border with Syria; they had been set free roughly eight months after their June 2013 abduction by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant militants. Although French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius has insisted that the French government does not pay ransoms, it has been reported that $18 million was paid to secure the journalists' release.

Kidnapping for Ransom in the Levant

This is not the first time a foreigner has been kidnapped for ransom in Syria, but it is one of the highest-profile cases and allegedly involved the largest ransom payment since the Syrian conflict began. Elsewhere in the region, Iraqi al Qaeda militants regularly kidnapped foreigners during the Iraq War, especially in 2004 and 2005. Following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the many foreigners in the country served as prime targets for the newly formed al Qaeda in Iraq. The militant group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of hundreds of foreigners -- some of whom, like Nick Berg, were killed in grisly beheading videos, while others were released for multimillion-dollar ransoms. During the height of al Qaeda in Iraq's kidnappings for ransom, the group secured anywhere between $5 million and $15 million for hostages from Western countries.

Al Qaeda in Iraq issued varied demands for hostage releases, including a complete withdrawal of foreign troops or businesses. Because removing all foreign entities from Iraq in exchange for one hostage was so improbable, it seemed that the goal of those kidnappings was to send a message of defiance to foreign governments by terrorizing and eventually killing their citizens. At other times, the group would seek hefty ransoms from the foreign governments. These ransoms were used to fund and expand the group's operations against occupying forces in the country. Often the hostages' fates would depend on their nationality -- citizens of countries that were less likely to negotiate and were highly symbolic, such as the United States, were typically executed, while citizens of countries that usually pay ransoms, such as Italy and Spain, were ransomed and released.

Many al Qaeda in Iraq militants are now fighting in Syria and northwestern Iraq with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, with the group's Syrian and foreign fighters under the leadership of Iraqi militants. Because of the large presence of Iraqi militants now fighting in Syria, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant's use of kidnapping for ransom is not necessarily new, but rather a resumed tactic in a new theater.

Kidnapping for Ransom Elsewhere in the Middle East

Kidnapping for ransom is not just specific to militants in Iraq and Syria. Several other al Qaeda regional nodes, such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have used the tactic as well. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has relied heavily on kidnappings for ransom in the Sahel and North Africa for more than a decade. In 2003 the group's predecessor, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, kidnapped 32 tourists in southeastern Algeria. Although many of these hostages were freed after rescue operations involving gunfights with the militants, others were not freed until Germany paid a sizable ransom. Al Qaeda's North African branch has continued the practice ever since, using ransom money to purchase weapons, food and clothing for its militants and recruits and to pay bribes to help gain the allegiance of local tribes.

Large ransoms are also a major form of funding for the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and its activities. Prior to the unification of the Saudi and Yemeni branches of al Qaeda, both groups had carried out kidnappings, but rather than demanding large ransoms they would often call for the release of other al Qaeda militants in exchange for the hostages. After the group's merger in 2009, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula began to greatly increase the number of kidnappings for ransom it carried out. It was during this time that Western governments began to crack down heavily on money transfers from foreign backers who had provided the group with much-needed funding. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula -- like al Qaeda's North African branch -- therefore began relying on the tens of millions of dollars gained from ransoms to sustain and expand its operations. The group's reliance on kidnapping was even documented by a letter that the group's leader, Nasir al-Wahayshi, sent to the al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb leadership.

Unlike al Qaeda's branches in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant already has a steady stream of funding and a well-established organization. The group receives significant funds from private donors in the Levant and abroad, in addition to the revenue it gains from oil and natural gas fields it controls and operates in Syria. The group also receives some money from taxes levied against citizens residing in towns and cities in Syria under its control. Therefore, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant likely resumed kidnappings for ransom because the opportunity has arisen with the presence of Western journalists, aid workers and doctors in Syria. As these kidnappings persist, heightened security will likely be practiced in Syria and the flow of foreigners will probably decrease, which could constrain the group's ability to continue using the tactic in the long term.

Costs and Constraints

When foreigners are present, kidnapping for ransom is a low-cost, low-risk way to gain millions of dollars per hostage in funding, with higher ransoms likely when the hostages are Western. There are, however, some potential constraints against using kidnappings for ransom. First, the group must be able to devote the manpower and resources needed to kidnap the target and then sustain a potentially long-term hostage. For many established militant groups, this is not much of an issue; taking hostages is often relatively straightforward, requiring the careful selection and surveillance of the target, a small group of individuals to kidnap the target and enough resources to ensure the life of the target can be protected until a ransom is secured. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has ample men and firearms, as well as bases and training camps in remote, ungoverned spaces where they can easily hold hostages.

In many countries where kidnapping for ransom is an established practice, militant groups work with tribes or criminal groups in the initial kidnapping stage. Both al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have been known to purchase hostages from a tribal group and transport them to al Qaeda territory where the hostages can be kept for months, sometimes years. Such was the case with a Swiss teacher who was kidnapped in 2012 by armed tribesmen in western Yemen, then sold and transferred to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the eastern Shabwah province, where she was held for more than a year. Working with local tribes and criminal gangs reduces the risk posed to militant groups. The price paid to these tribes is also low in comparison to the ransoms procured when the hostages are released.

It may be more difficult for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant to find local groups willing to kidnap Westerners, considering that most rebel groups in Syria want to devote their manpower and resources to battling al Assad's forces rather than carrying out kidnapping campaigns. Additionally, some rebel groups receive backing from Western nations and their allies and therefore would not openly participate in attacks against citizens from these countries. Moreover, some groups have fought fiercely against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Even if the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant did not get help from another group in abducting foreign targets, it has a large membership with extensive training in terrorist tradecraft that would be useful in a kidnapping operation.

The next constraint involves obtaining ransoms. As a general rule, foreign governments will do all they can to avoid paying ransoms in an effort to avoid providing militants with funds. If the country where the hostage is being held is relatively stable, the foreign government may attempt to stage a raid on the suspected location of the hostage or work with the local government to release the individual without paying a ransom. Other times, the foreign government may attempt to negotiate with the militant group, offering a prisoner exchange instead, as was seen in the release of the Jordanian ambassador to Libya.

However, both of these methods can have undesirable and deadly repercussions. In a war-torn country like Syria, and in dealing with such a notoriously ruthless group, foreign governments are not likely to attempt risky missions or negotiations and instead would either pay the ransom or leave the hostage. However, governments are not the only potential sources of ransom; foreign companies, insurance providers and even family members could offer ransom payments for the release of hostages. Sometimes third countries will even intervene in an attempt to resolve a hostage crisis and pay the ransom demanded, even if the victim's home country will not do so. For example, Qatar has reportedly paid for the release of some hostages held by rebel groups in Syria, although this practice could have been intended as an indirect way for Qatar to channel support to anti-regime forces while appearing to be helpful to the rest of the world.

The third constraint to carrying out kidnapping for ransom is that in doing so, the responsible group could make itself even more of a target. In the case of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the accelerated kidnapping of foreigners -- especially from Western countries -- could leave the group vulnerable to even more pressure from the international community and other Syrian rebel groups. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is already on many Western nations' lists of terrorist groups, and there is a limit to the type of direct involvement countries like the United States will pursue in Syria and Iraq. Western nations could work with groups like the Free Syrian Army -- to which the United States provides military aid and funding -- in an effort to thwart kidnapping efforts by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. However, because the Free Syrian Army is already a target of other rival rebel brigades, such agreements are not likely.

Even without Western-backed pressure to intercede, an increased use of kidnapping for ransom could drive other, more secular rebel groups in Syria to clash with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Any form of prolonged infighting is detrimental to the rebel movement, but it is something that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is prepared to deal with, should it arise as a result of a sustained kidnapping for ransom campaign.

Each of these constraints is something the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has either already faced or is well-equipped to face. The relatively low cost of carrying out kidnappings, the presence of foreigners in Syria, and the high ransoms that can be secured -- particularly for Westerners -- mean that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant can be expected to continue the practice as long as it remains profitable. As the group continues to obtain high ransoms, it will be able to further expand its influence and control within Syria and Iraq, moving closer to its goal of establishing an Islamic emirate in the region.

In Syria, Militants Revive Kidnapping for Ransom is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Another reason to search and search again.

When I was a rookie, I transported a suspect for two other officers. Both men had searched the suspect and I also searched him. Then I put him in jail and the jailer found the knife we both missed in his pocket. Cost me a one day suspension, the only time in my career I've been off duty. Cost money but it taught me a lesson I never forgot. I don't take anyone at their word "I've searched them..." Nothing personal pal, but it's a case of my ass being on the block for your suspect.

From Denver, a reason why we search in bad places.

Report: Man who opened fire in custody searched 3 times prior 
DENVER — Officers tried to frisk a suspect three times, even knocking a knife from his waistband, but failed to find a gun the suspect allegedly used to shoot at the officers. Luckily, the District Attorney says the suspect's gun jammed during the shootout. 
Authorities said Isaac Vigil, 32, opened fire as he was exiting the back seat of a patrol car outside the District 4 Police Station on May 14. An officer returned fire, wounding Vigil. Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey announced Monday in a public letter to Police Chief Robert White that no charges will be filed against the officer. 
The letter contains many new details about the case and the searches that preceded the shootout. When the shooting first occurred, CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia reported that sources said arresting officers missed the gun in Vigil's pants because of an "inadequate frisk." 
The new letter from Morrissey's office reveals officers actually tried to frisk Vigil three times. The first was after officers allegedly saw him "getting high" in a car outside a fast food restaurant in the 300 block of South Elliot Street. The team approached Vigil and a detective described him as "very jumpy, talking, yelling at us -- cussin' us." "The detectives attempted to frisk Vigil at this time but had difficulty because Vigil was highly agitated and, in Detective Robledo's words, 'squirrelly.'" 
During that first attempt to frisk Vigil, a knife allegedly fell from Vigil's wasteband. Because of the way Vigil was acting, the letter says, detectives got on the phone and requested a uniformed officer to pick him up. The plainclothes detectives' cars did not have prisoner cages to transport him to headquarters. The detectives wrestled Vigil to the ground and completed the first search. They found a bank card in his name and a crack pipe. They then checked Vigil's records and found an outstanding warrant for his arrest from Adams County. Court records show that warrant involves failure to appear in court on a case where he's charged with two counts of felony menacing with a weapon and one count of illegal weapon possession by a convicted felon.
Then came the second search. "Because of the way Vigil was acting and the nature of the warrant, the detectives searched him again," Morrissey's letter states. The letter doesn't say if the officers found anything in the second search, but it does say they also searched his car. 
After finding several small caliber cartridges in his car, officers decided to search Vigil for a third time. When another officer arrived in a marked patrol car, Vigil was loaded into the back and driven to Denver Police Department's District Four Headquarters. Throughout the ride, the officer said Vigil was "squirming" and making threats. Vigil also allegedly said he'd been smoking meth for three days. 
When officers ordered Vigil to get out of the car at the police station he allegedly replied, "Man! You're gonna hear a 'pop!' You're gonna hear 'pop!'" They reached in to pull Vigil out and heard a gunshot. Vigil's hands were cuffed behind his back but he was holding a silver gun and pointing it toward a detective. Vigil was able to fire two shots before being wounded by a shot fired by Corporal John Sisneros, the letter indicates. Vigil was struck by a bullet that went "through and through" his abdomen.... ...The letter also indicates that Vigil had hidden baggies containing more than three grams of methamphetamine in his rectum....
Sobering.  My fellow officers, be safe out there.

Officer Down

Patrolman Stephen Arkell
Brentwood New Hampshire Police Department
End of Watch: Monday, May 12, 2014
Age: 48
Tour: 12 years
Badge # 87

Patrolman Stephen Arkell was shot and killed after responding to a domestic dispute at a home on Mill Pond Road shortly before 5:00 pm.

He had entered the home with other officers when a male subject opened fire, killing him. The other officers were forced to retreat from the home because of the gunfire.

A short time later a massive explosion and fire destroyed the home. The subject is believed to have been killed in the explosion.

Patrolman Arkell had served with the Brentwood Police Department for 12 years. He was survived by his wife and two daughters.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh.