Sunday, January 26, 2014

(Davos Disaster?) Koch Plot Thickens/Global Economic Meltdown Coming (Fukushima Secrecy Syndrome Pervades World, The FBI Out-CIA's the CIA (The FBI as Outlier - The New Untouchables))


HSBC Bank on Verge of Collapse: Second Major Banking Crash Imminent

Do the Kochs need more victories?

Are they still feeling a little bit left out?

Still not enough control of all the world's resources?

Do we really need an answer?

f the Koch brothers' political operation seemed ambitious in 2010 or 2012, wait for what's in store for 2014 and beyond.

The billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch are convening some of the country's richest Republican donors on Sunday at a resort near Palm Springs, Calif., to raise millions of dollars for efforts to shape the political landscape for years to come.

It's the cash that can possibly kick Democrats out of the Senate majority this fall and shape the philosophy and agenda of the GOP conference - not to mention the 2016 presidential field.

The Koch political operation has become among the most dominant forces in American politics, rivaling even the official Republican Party in its ability to shape policy debates and elections. But it's mostly taken a piecemeal approach, sticking to its sweet spots, while leaving other tasks to outsiders, or ad hoc coalitions of allies.

That's changing. This year, the Kochs' close allies are rolling out a new, more integrated approach to politics. That includes wading into Republican primaries for the first time to ensure their ideal candidates end up on the ticket, and also centralizing control of their network to limit headache-inducing freelancing by affiliated operatives.

Billionaires think you are not understanding their actions correctly.

So stop it.

Or they'll get you (and your little job).

And no matter what anyone says, these greedocraps are hardly oblivious to the anger directed at them as even the wealthiest are more than likely to strike out at the poor who dare to question their ownership.

The world looks different from (the) rarified altitude of a billionaire. Especially if you’re one of the 85 richest who control more wealth than the 3.5 billion poorest.

. . . You guys already own half the planet. Keep up the good work, getting richer, by the end of this century your family could be one of the world’s 11 trillionaires predicted in the new Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report. Capitalism is the ticket to owning everything.

Cruising at 51,000 feet, Mach 0.85 in your $40 million Gulfstream jet, you know the world belongs to you. A few days at the World Economic Forum in historic Davos, Europe’s highest city, high in the Swiss Alps, and your world seemed even bigger. Roots in the Higher Middle Ages. Fabulous ski resort.

. . . But bottom line: for 1,500 business and financial types at Davos, many whose firms are permanent members, just one new contact can justify the quarter million often spent belonging to the exclusive Davos Forum. Yes, up at their altitude, the world really does looks different.

Billionaires aren’t ‘Curious Capitalists,’ they just want to make more money.

The truth is, for 43 years Davos has been a private club for capitalists that has had more to do with increasing economic inequality than any other global organization.

We know Pope Francis has already made global inequality and the end of free-market, trickle-down capitalism the rock upon which his papacy stands as the leader of the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. He has stated unequivocally that “inequality is the root of social ills” and will only be resolved by “rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation.”

He warned that “no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems” until capitalism is rejected.

Worse, violence, war and revolution follow as capitalism has increased inequality repressing many, says Al Jazeera News. Quoting from an Oxram global report: “Disparities in wealth and income result from ‘political capture,’ in which the wealthy use their economic power to make sure the rules bend to favor the rich, often to the detriment of everyone else. The consequences include the erosion of democratic governance, the pulling apart of social cohesion, and the vanishing of equal opportunities for all.”

Inequality is also emerging as a political force in America, echoing the growing power of a new collective conscience against capitalism.

. . . The Davos Forums were founded in 1971. An earlier feel-good mantra: “Committed to improving the state of the world.” This year’s mantra: “Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business.” The WEF is a neutral zone, observing “profound political, economic, social and, above all, technological forces are transforming our lives, communities and institutions.” Yes, typical Swiss neutrality in the midst of war, and profiting from it.

Paradoxically, global inequality has gotten worse in the years since WEF was founded. Why? Because it exists as a club for capitalists. A few years ago we warned that WEF is “failing. In 40 years the Haves got richer. Have-nots got shafted. Something’s terribly wrong. When it comes to global economics, Davos really is a disaster. Their economics a disaster. Capitalism a disaster. The Davos’ world view is a disaster.”

That was 2011: And unfortunately, “the Super Rich cannot see this reality as they metaphorically cruise along at 50,000 feet or hobnob with world leaders and celebs searching for another deal. They can’t even see the risks at Davos.

Today’s billionaires, tomorrow’s trillionaires, all live in a culture that breeds blindness, a culture with a collective brain brilliantly explained by a 30-year-old former Wall Street hedge fund trader in his recent New York Times piece. His last bonus was only $3.6 million and he “was angry because it wasn’t big enough.” He was in it to become a billionaire.

His description of Wall Street’s addictive brain is classic. Tells you why capitalism can’t stop, will eventually self-destruct and take the world with it: “Not only was I not helping to fix any problems in the world, but I was profiting from them. During the market crash in 2008, I’d made a ton of money by shorting the derivatives of risky companies. As the world crumbled, I profited. I’d seen the crash coming, but instead of trying to help the people it would hurt the most, people who didn’t have a million dollars in the bank, I’d made money off it.”

“In the end, it was actually my absurdly wealthy bosses who helped me see the limitations of unlimited wealth. I was in a meeting with one of them, and a few other traders, and they were talking about the new hedge-fund regulations. Most everyone on Wall Street thought they were a bad idea. ‘But isn’t it better for the system as a whole?’ I asked. The room went quiet, and my boss shot me a withering look. I remember his saying, ‘I don’t have the brain capacity to think about the system as a whole. All I’m concerned with is how this affects our company.’ Myopic, greedy narcissists.

As long as this addictive mind-set controls the collective brain of global capitalism, the war between capitalism and inequality will get more and more intense, exploding into violence and revolutions against the Super Rich.

I'm thinking that we all should have been at Davos as the money-making opportunities elsewhere have been very slight, and according to the latest data, they are getting to be nonexistent. Because of Davos and its offshoots.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

"20 Early Warning Signs That We Are Approaching A Global Economic Meltdown"

by Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog

"Have you been paying attention to what has been happening in Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Ukraine, Turkey and China?  If you are like most Americans, you have not been.  Most Americans don't seem to really care too much about what is happening in the rest of the world, but they should.  In major cities all over the globe right now, there is looting, violence, shortages of basic supplies, and runs on the banks.  We are not at a "global crisis" stage yet, but things are getting worse with each passing day.  For a while, I have felt that 2014 would turn out to be a major "turning point" for the global economy, and so far that is exactly what it is turning out to be.  The following are 20 early warning signs that we are rapidly approaching a global economic meltdown . . .

And I have not even mentioned the extreme drought that has caused the U.S. cattle herd to drop to a 61 year low or the nuclear radiation from Fukushima that is washing up on the west coast.

In light of everything above, is there anyone out there that still wants to claim that "everything is going to be okay" for the global economy?

Sadly, most Americans are not even aware of most of these things. All over the country today, the number one news headline is about Justin Bieber.  The mainstream media is absolutely obsessed with celebrity scandals, and so is a very large percentage of the U.S. population. A great economic storm is rapidly approaching, and most people don't even seem to notice the storm clouds that are gathering on the horizon. In the end, perhaps we will get what we deserve as a nation.”

Far-Right Phony Intellectualism: The Secret of Dinesh D’Souza’s Success

Wingnuts obsessed with the culture war will always have a place (and credit card) for hucksters like Dinesh D'Souza

As bad as this latest news is for D’Souza, the unfortunate reality for the former Reagan administration policy analyst is that this entanglement with law enforcement is merely the latest in a long line of recent public failures. After spending much of the 1990s enjoying the financial and social benefits of being embraced by America’s right-wing ecosystem — writing in conservative magazines, speaking at conservative events, taking positions within conservative think tanks, and selling lots of books about conservatism (and the evils of liberalism) to conservative audiences — D’Souza’s had a rougher go of it in the aughts.

He was never a mainstream figure, even during his ’90s heyday, but sometime around the the latter-half of the 21st century’s first decade, D’Souza receded further and further toward the far-right fringe. If there was a single tipping point, it was probably the release of his execrable 2007 book, “The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11,” whose title tells you pretty much all you need to know. (It did give us this D’Souza interview with Colbert, though, for which we can be grateful.) That was an argument so hostile and unreasonable, so suffused with a neurotic and tribalist hatred, that it more or less negated itself with its own silliness.

D’Souza’s trip to rock bottom wasn’t a straight line, however. It’s true that he went from being a right-wing pundit with a whiff of intellectual seriousness about him to becoming just another run-of-the-mill far-right demagogue, albeit with a larger vocabulary than most. But as Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh could tell you, if you hit your marks and balance seething resentment with a carnival barker’s flair, you can make good money on the far-right fringes. A lot of it, in fact.

Best Buy exemplifies what is happening to our economy right now. And there's a very good reason.

No one has money for toys now. Or much of anything else.

If you go to a Best Buy these days, you get an odd sensation. One actually has personal space, lots of space. It used to be that massive amounts of people were hunkering down on the shopping floor.

Back then, it was also nearly impossible to get advice or ask a question of a sales clerk.

That is still a problem — even though it should be much easier now to hunt down a sales associate, since there are very few customers in the stores. The reason why this remains a frustrating problem is that, along with fewer customers, there are ever fewer sales associates on the shopping floor. That is a clear sign of the deep crisis the company is in.

A closer look at who is still frequenting the stores reveals that it is mostly young people and Latinos. Advertising hype notwithstanding, neither of those groups is known for its vast spending powers in the consumer electronics market.

This, then, is the brave new American shopping world: Those who are equipped with spending power are much more likely to frequent an Apple store when — and if — they still need something. But by and large, the baby boomers are simply shopped out. They have all the flat screen TVs, ovens, dishwashers, etc. etc. that they can imagine buying. With real product innovation slowing down in most product categories, there is little reason to buy.

Another factor is that consumer credit remains generally tight. No matter how much retail industry analysts in their cheery comments to the news media want to convince consumers otherwise, ample credit is available only to those who already have everything they need. And credit remains restricted for income groups that still have pent-up demand.

In the eternal race to squeeze out costs, it is now the former vampires — the big-box stores — that get sucked dry. In their prime, big-box stores took down many a smaller retailer, with their then superior cost structure.

They turned employees into sales associates, paid them on an hourly basis, usually with very low, if any benefits. They squeezed manufacturers with their constant demand for lower prices.

That formula worked well for a long time. But now the vampires have turned into dinosaurs. They are “so yesterday,” because they foolishly held on to the concept of physical stores and having a sales force, both major cost factors due to rent, utilities and personnel costs.

For their continuing courage to populate the local sales scene, the big-box stores actually get penalized by having to impose on their customers a surcharge in the form of the sales tax. In most U.S. states, sales tax is still not charged for online sales — even though that self-destructive trend may now be changing.

All of this pretty much adds up to the good old adage of three strikes and you are out. The key question that needs to be addressed, though, is not the commercial fate of an individual company. That is a concern mostly for its shareholders — and the remaining employees (correction: “associates”).

And how goes all the secrecy surrounding the continuing Fukushima drama?

The Fukushima Secrecy Syndrome

Ralph Nader

This handout picture taken by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on November 27, 2013 shows review mission members of the IAEA inspecting the crippled Tokyo Electric Power CO. (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in the town of Okuma in Fukushima prefecture. (photo: AFP/IAEA)

This handout picture taken by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on November 27, 2013 shows review mission members of the IAEA inspecting the crippled Tokyo Electric Power CO. (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in the town of Okuma in Fukushima prefecture. (photo: AFP/IAEA)

"Last month, the ruling Japanese coalition parties quickly rammed through Parliament a state secrets law. We Americans better take notice. Under its provisions the government alone decides what are state secrets and any civil servants who divulge any 'secrets' can be jailed for up to 10 years. Journalists caught in the web of this vaguely defined law can be jailed for up to 5 years."

Government officials have been upset at the constant disclosures of their laxity by regulatory officials before and after the Fukushima nuclear power disaster in 2011, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

Week after week, reports appear in the press revealing the seriousness of the contaminated water flow, the inaccessible radioactive material deep inside these reactors and the need to stop these leaking sites from further poisoning the land, food and ocean. Officials now estimate that it could take up to 40 years to clean up and decommission the reactors.

Other factors are also feeding this sure sign of a democratic setback. Militarism is raising its democracy-menacing head, prompted by friction with China over the South China Sea. Dismayingly, U.S. militarists are pushing for a larger Japanese military budget. China is the latest national security justification for our "pivot to East Asia" provoked in part by our military-industrial complex.

Draconian secrecy in government and fast-tracking bills through legislative bodies are bad omens for freedom of the Japanese press and freedom to dissent by the Japanese people. Freedom of information and robust debate (the latter cut off sharply by Japan's parliament in December 5, 2013) are the currencies of democracy.

There is good reason why the New York Times continues to cover the deteriorating conditions in the desolate, evacuated Fukushima area. Our country has licensed many reactors here with the same designs and many of the same inadequate safety and inspection standards. Some reactors here are near earthquake faults with surrounding populations which cannot be safely evacuated in case of serious damage to the electric plant. The two Indian Point aging reactors that are 30 miles north of New York City are a case in point.

The less we are able to know about the past and present conditions of Fukushima, the less we will learn about atomic reactors in our own country.


# reiverpacific 2014-01-25 11:48

The whole Nuke industry is riddled with corruption.

I think I've mentioned this before but it still bears repeating as Fukushima roils and bubbles away across the Pacific, that I worked for a while on a Civil Engineering project with a former nuclear engineering inspector who was warned, then fired by his employer Westinghouse for repeatedly pointing out huge discrepancies in the plans and specs on a plant, and contractors take shortcuts in the construction process constantly.

Yet we keep entrusting these so-called highly-qualified and well-paid "specialists" with not only we and our children's safety but the future of life on the planet.

Japan has never been the most transparent nation in it's affairs, is plagued with government corruption and seems to be mostly conformist-centric, will do almost anything to "save face", so the continual whitewashing of it's disastrous nuclear menace and now this punitive secrecy blanket is further proof that "All governments lie but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out" as Izzy Stone put it.

They must be chokin' on their own stoner-smoke by now, like the NSA over here!

These are the REAL criminals - not Snowden, Assange and Manning.

# DeadlyClear

Too bad the LA Times hasn't the journalistic integrity that NY Times is reporting - because the west coast is being bombarded with dead sea life animals and it really suspicious... However, there are no reports issued, no CDC or DOH hotlines - nada, no nothing. Best thing the west coast and Pacific islanders can do is get Canary 100 and test for radiation and start reporting it.

# Mermaid19

I am not clear on why all the secrecy. Does greed take over human life, the life of our children, the life of future generations. Seems like the whole globe needs to be focused on this one. Are we truly on the road to self-destructio n. Guess the ones who are stopping the progress have a one way ticket to Mars and the hell with the rest of us. Very confusing to me that more people are not speaking up and why our President and our Media is so silent around this. This is a VERRRRRY SERIOUS ISSUE for all of us.

# Vardoz

We know that Fukushima is spreading radiation across the US. It is clear that mankind is unable to manage this industry and make sure we are safe. We have met our enemy and it is us. Radiation kills for generations. it travels everywhere into our air, food and water - Already fetus' are getting cancer in the womb as reported by Children's Hospital in Boston. And the stupid GOP is up in arms about abortion. They are the abortion! This is really bad this is why their is so much silence. Go to to see what you are being esposed to. Get a geiger counter. This is a catastrophie beyond words and the international community is not taking action to contain it. We are all living with this horrible contamination and as one doctor just told me we will all eventually die of cancer. This is the result of exposer to constant contact to radioactive emissions. I wish God could help us but God is the one that ignores you when you really need help. i have called my reps over and over but the deed is done and we can only hope we can live to a fairly old age and our children can too and species can also live on.

# Charles3000

Fukushima is a full melt down that has been discussed as a possibility since since these plants were first built. The fuel core has melted through all the en-casements into the earth. No one understands what will happen, only that it will happen over a very long time, years, maybe decades. This story will be there for a long time and we will eventually learn (the hard way) the results of a nuclear melt down.

# oakes721

It is the silence of shame. Deepest denial plagues the race that allows these festering toothaches to rule and ruin this Earth. We are witnessing the loss of Paradise ~ and they can only think of ways to shut up our voices and blind the eyes that see them for what they are.

And all the questions about the integrity of the FBI?

Interview with Criminologist on the FBI: The New Untouchables

By David J. Krajicek

Jan. 17, 2014
If the FBI has figured out how and why one or more of its agents shot and killed a key witness to the Boston Marathon bombing during an interrogation last May 22, it isn’t rushing to tell anyone. As of this writing, the Bureau has been investigating itself for 237 days. FBI officials boasted to The New York Times that the Bureau’s “shooting incident review team” employed “an effective, time-tested process” to investigate the use of lethal force by agents. But don’t expect this FBI probe to call into question its own actions. According to the Times, in more than 150 consecutive shootings dating back to 1993 the FBI has never once found an agent at fault.

Turning a Blind Eye

In fact, the Bureau’s reports systematically omit a key piece of evidence about shootings involving its agents: “Such reports typically do not include whether an agent had been involved in any previous shootings, because they focus only on the episode in question,“ FBI officials told the Times.
What does this astonishing admission mean for the FBI’s investigation of the slaying of Ibragim Todashev in Orlando last May?

Samuel Walker, a criminologist and nationally recognized expert in police accountability, tells WhoWhatWhy that the FBI’s blind eye toward shooting patterns by its agents is “just crazy.”  Identifying such patterns is the first step toward flagging bad cops—or agents with “problems.”
The FBI’s failure to do this runs counter not only to common sense but also to “best-practice” protocols now used in police departments coast to coast. It also challenges the Bureau’s reputation as a model law enforcement agency.
FBI: We Are the Best
Forty years after J. Edgar Hoover’s mendacious tenure as FBI director ended, the Bureau continues to hold itself in the highest regard. Its website declares:

The FBI has developed a suite of capabilities that is unmatched in any other single national security agency in the world. At the same time, one common thread for the FBI through the years has been its penchant for lifting all boats in the global law enforcement and intelligence communities. Its rising tide has been a slew of institutionalized training programs and specialized courses.
But the FBI hardly needs to toot its own horn. Media toadies have been doing that for generations. Here’s an example from the New York Times in 1965:

The FBI, which has been built in Hoover’s own image, is generally acknowledged to be the finest police and investigative force in the world. It has greatly advanced the concept of law enforcement by introducing scientific methods and professional disciplines that have filtered down to precinct station houses in hundreds of cities across the country.
Could the FBI’s stonewalling on its “time-tested” investigation of the Todashev case be a tipping point? Perhaps. The Bureau’s image is being scuffed by some of its old media friends. On Jan. 7, the Boston Globe published a searing editorial – “Where’s the Explanation? – demanding that the FBI tell what it knows about the agent’s slaying of Todashev:

FBI director James B. Comey needs to understand that his agency’s credibility is on the line in its investigation into the killing of Ibragim Todashev…The FBI, which has a long track record of exonerating itself in internal inquiries into shootings by agents, has had ample time to investigate Todashev’s death. It’s unclear now what the agency is waiting for. It’s time Comey provided an explanation.
Reforming Law Enforcement
In an exclusive Q&A, we asked criminologist Walker about the basis of the FBI’s increasingly imperiled reputation.
Walker, a professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, has been studying police accountability and oversight of police agencies and officers since the mid-1970s, including major research projects funded by the U.S. Department of Justice.
He was an expert witness in the Center for Constitutional Rights’ successful federal class-action lawsuit against the New York City Police Department’s stop-and-frisk strategy. Many of Judge Shira Scheindlin’s remedies in her recent ruling against the NYPD, including the appointment of an independent monitor, were drawn from Walker’s testimony.
Walker holds a unique position in the traditionally hidebound world of law enforcement. He is a flinty police critic who is nonetheless called upon by police departments to guide reforms. He is also a hero to those who advocate for civilian oversight of police departments.
“I’m very proud of the fact that I can speak to both sides,” says Walker, who first ventured into advocacy as a volunteer in the black voter registration drive during Mississippi’s Freedom Summer of 1964. “I think I’ve established my credibility. There’s a new generation of police commanders who understand there are things they need to do and should do, and they respect that.”
The Evolution of Policing
WhoWhatWhy: So you’re saying that police are evolving?
Walker: There are a lot of good things going on in terms of police accountability at the local level. I think the FBI is out of that. They’re not part of that world. They’re insulated.
WhoWhatWhy: What sort of “good things” are happening with municipal police?
Walker: They are becoming learning organizations. That means they learn from their own mistakes and learn from other incidents elsewhere. So for example, in the case of officer-involved shootings, one important development is that there are now two parallel investigations. One focuses on liability and discipline. Did the officer do something wrong, violate the law or violate department policy, and should discipline be the result? The second is really a policy review. Were there ways in which the shooting could have been prevented? Do we need to change our policies or possibly our training and supervision so that we can prevent these things from happening in the future?
WhoWhatWhy: So the two-track investigation has become a “best practices” model?
Walker: Yes, increasingly. And that really gets to the culture of a police department. Do they really ask tough questions about what the officer did, and are they really prepared to raise critical questions and draw conclusions that are critical of the officer and the department? That’s tough, but that’s what really needs to happen if you want to look at an incident from a policy standpoint.
WhoWhatWhy: Other trends?
Walker: Another important development is the use of early intervention systems to flag officers with problems. These systems are based on a computerized database of officer performance – instances of use of force, citizen complaints, arrest data, all of their stop data, their disciplinary record…You run the numbers and, sure enough, there’s always a small group of officers at the far end who have a higher-than-average number of problematic incidents.
WhoWhatWhy: Do you find that commanders use this information to deal with problem cops?
Walker:  Many do. Early intervention systems are really now the gold standard. They’re a powerful tool for identifying problem officers.
Learning from History
WhoWhatWhy: Let’s turn to the FBI’s remarkable record of clearing agents who shoot people. You called it suspicious that the FBI pretty much never faults an agent who shoots someone. And what about the Bureau’s assertion that the shooting history of an agent is irrelevant?
Walker: That’s a fundamental question: You look at the full record of the officer. Has the officer been involved in other questionable shootings or other questionable incidents? Those things are red flags. In that [Times] article, the FBI pointedly said that it doesn’t inquire into the agent’s record. That’s wrong. That’s just crazy.
WhoWhatWhy: The story quoted a spokesman touting the Bureau’s “effective, time-tested process” for internal investigations of agent-involved shootings, like that of Todashev last May. From what you know of the FBI’s shooting investigations, do they follow “best practices?”
Walker: They are halfway there, but I think they’re not all the way there. They have a shooting incident review team and they look at all of the action for lessons learned. But there’s a cultural issue here. Are the people on that review team really going to ask the tough questions? I’m not really sure of that. I’m a little skeptical of the FBI just because of its cultural history, its rather legendary history of not being that critical of itself. And again, their failure to look at an officer’s record I think is wrong. I think in general that the FBI could be much more open and transparent.
WhoWhatWhy: How do they rationalize their failure to review an agent’s total record, especially if that is the “best practices” gold standard?
Walker: I don’t know how they could rationalize it. You would want to know very early on whether this officer has a record of questionable incidents. In a municipal police department, the other cops know. The other cops know that this guy has a control problem, a temper problem, or is quick to draw a weapon. Now with the FBI, just given their assignment patterns (with more agent mobility than most local police departments), I’m not sure that kind of knowledge is there on the street.
WhoWhatWhy: Or it’s buried by others on the job?
Who the Bad Cops Are
Walker: This gets to a pretty important issue, where early intervention is relevant. The dirty little secret of policing has always been that other officers in the department know who the bad cops are. Police departments are like little villages…And they’ve always failed, historically, to deal with problem officers that they knew they had. Again, that’s this cultural thing. But I’m seeing a new world of police accountability. Early intervention systems empower managers and give them a tool to identify the facts that underlie these reputations.
WhoWhatWhy: Are there other initiatives in preventing officer-involved shootings?
Walker: One important issue being addressed more often is the myth of the split-second decision. The public rhetoric about policing goes like this: “Oh, they’re out there on the street and they have to make these split-second, life and death decisions.” But many, many incidents are scenarios that unfold over time, and officers make a series of tactical decisions.
WhoWhatWhy: And so it’s about making the right decisions?
Walker: Right. According to the split-second-decision construct, it often seems the officer had no choice: Some guy suddenly jumped out with a gun, and the officer had to shoot. There’s no time to think. But that’s not true. These things unfold over time. The officer makes a series of decisions…Shooting scenarios in many cases are manageable incidents. You can have your officers choose to do this rather than that. And if they choose this, it will reduce the likelihood of having to use deadly force.
WhoWhatWhy: For example, backing away rather than pressing forward aggressively to defuse a confrontation?
Walker: This plays out particularly with police dealing with people who are mentally disturbed. There are ways to manage that incident to help to defuse it. Now if an officer is going to start crowding him, the chance of having to use deadly force really escalates if you bark at him, if you give him orders. When a person’s having a psychotic breakdown, that’s the last thing you do. You give him space, you give him time. So the key lesson is that police use of firearms is a manageable problem. And we’ve made a lot of progress over the years, and I believe we’ve learned some things in recent years. We can reduce that even further.
WhoWhatWhy: You said the FBI somehow manages to stand apart from the world of law enforcement accountability. How?
Insular and Arrogant
Walker: Well, the FBI has a long history of being insular, being arrogant. They really think they have nothing to learn from local police, which is a mistake because a lot of local police departments have made significant progress. Police departments are really much more in the public eye because they patrol, they’re out there in the streets, and people see them in patrol cars. And so they’ve been subject to public criticism and have been forced to respond to those criticisms much more than the FBI has. The FBI is this remote federal agency.
WhoWhatWhy: Is that because the Bureau is buffered from accountability to the voting public? In a city, the dynamic of electoral politics is such that the mayor catches hell from voters who then holds his police chief accountable. The FBI is not subject to the same immediate electoral dynamic.
Walker: Right. And that scenario is playing out right now in New York City, in exactly the way it should play out in a democracy. New York has a new mayor who was dissatisfied with police policy regarding stop-and-frisk and other programs, and he’s going to change it.
Changing the FBI
WhoWhatWhy: Is the FBI due for some fundamental procedural changes?
Walker: My hunch would be that a thorough audit would find they’re not up to speed with the best municipal police departments. They think they’re the best, and they’re not. First I would look at this cultural issue and see if they’re asking the tough questions in their investigations and whether they’re looking at officers’ records. I suspect they have a lot to learn….I would look at in-service training. Are they training themselves, or do they bring in other agencies? I’d bet some good money that they do not bring in people from local police departments who have really moved to the fore in this area.
WhoWhatWhy: How has the FBI maintained its untouchable reputation for so long?
Walker: I think it’s true of all organizations that sort of go off track by reading their own press clippings and lose the ability to be self-critical…For decades, the Los Angeles Police Department had a similar kind of culture, with a tremendous emphasis on public relations and creating or manipulating their image.
WhoWhatWhy: You say that you haven’t followed closely the FBI agent’s killing of Todashev, the Boston Bombing witness. Well, we have been following it closely, and we’re struck by the opaque nature of the FBI’s role. For example, we still don’t even know the name of the agent who killed Todashev.
Walker: I’m not entirely sure the names in an unresolved action like that should be released. But any past disciplinary action against him should be released….
WhoWhatWhy: But the FBI says it doesn’t look at an agent’s past shooting incidents for patterns. We have to assume that is the case in the Todashev shooting. So if the FBI won’t look for patterns in its investigation – using the “best practices” models you outlined – shouldn’t the press be able to do so?
Walker: I understand your point. I would like to know whether the FBI has some version of early intervention systems – a list of the top 10 agents who have been involved in firearms incidents, for example. That ought to be readily available to the director of the FBI.
WhoWhatWhy: It’s hard to conceive that the FBI doesn’t believe that that is pertinent information. Isn’t that why criminal histories are collected, to identify patterns? Isn’t that the idea behind three-strike sentences, however flawed: to identify repeat offenders?
Civilian Review of the FBI Unlikely
Walker: Yes, it’s exactly that. It’s just like criminals and juvenile delinquents. At the far end of the scale, you’ve got your hard-core group that is repeatedly in trouble. It’s true of drunk drivers. A lot of people drink and drive, but there is a very small group of repeat offenders at the far end. It’s true of every single area of life. But it would not surprise me if the FBI does not have the equivalent of an early intervention system. I think their attitude is that the FBI has nothing to learn from local police departments.
WhoWhatWhy: You are an expert in the police civilian review process. Not applicable to the FBI?
Walker: The FBI has none of that. Should they? I think it might build trust. It would take some serious thought to craft the right process since you’re talking about a national agency. But it could be done, maybe with an ombudsman or regional review boards. But at least you’d have a process where people could lodge their complaint, and where someone who’s out of the chain of command would consider those complaints.
WhoWhatWhy: Could you foresee such a thing?
Protected By Congress?
Walker: I’m not optimistic. The Bureau would fight it tooth and nail. They have a lot of allies in Congress. The way these things play out at the local level, it usually takes some terrible event involving police to help create a local review board. It could be done. It should be done. But I’m not optimistic that it’s about to be done.
WhoWhatWhy: If you were consulting the FBI about accountability, what advice would you give?
Walker: I’d ask if they have an early intervention system. I’d ask if they had a citizens’ complaint process. But I probably would start with this business of failing to look at records of agents involved in shootings, for god’s sake. I’d throw that New York Times story at them and say, is this really true?

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