Saturday, March 19, 2005

edited by Victor A. Cuvo

Feeding Tube Removed



Sheriff: Couey admits abducting, killing girl

Police say they erred in search
City officials defend response to shootings



The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/19/05

Atlanta police should have searched the parking deck where Brian Nichols was believed to have assaulted a man and driven off with his car, Police Chief Richard Pennington said Friday.

For more than 12 hours authorities searched for the green Honda Accord that Nichols is accused of taking from Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Don O'Briant. Other possible escape routes, such as MARTA, were discounted because police believed the man had left downtown in the Honda.

JOHN SPINK/AJC STAFF
Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington discusses last week's search for Brian Nichols as Mayor Shirley Franklin listens.
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Then, about 13 hours after the car was taken, another AJC employee spotted it parked on a different level of the same garage.

"We should have gone through the entire building — we didn't," Pennington said during a briefing at City Hall. He and Mayor Shirley Franklin answered questions about the department's response to the March 11 courthouse slayings.

"We don't have to put a rule in place that says 'let's search the garage,' " he said. "That's common sense."

One week to the day after the shootings, Atlanta's top cop described the successes and failures of the manhunt. Despite initial confusion, Pennington said, his department regrouped and began coordinating with the Fulton County Sheriff's Department and other law enforcement agencies. He said there was some initial uncertainty about the chain of command, but it was not a significant problem.

"I think that at some point there was some confusion about who actually was in charge," said the chief, who was vacationing in Cancun at the time of the shootings. Pennington phoned Assistant Chief Alan Dreher, and Dreher took command at 9:45 a.m. — an hour after Nichols is alleged to have attacked a deputy and grabbed her gun and 40 minutes after police got the first call about the shootings.

Who's in charge?

Dreher began coordinating assignments for all involved agencies at 9:50 a.m. Still, Pennington said, there was some uncertainty about who was in charge until Dreher and newly-elected Fulton Sheriff Myron Freeman talked and "resolved" the issue.

"I don't think the confusion hindered the investigation at all," Pennington said.

Freeman said there were never any questions about who was in charge. In a written response to questions e-mailed to him, Freeman wrote that a "joint command," including representatives of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies made decisions about what to do. But he said the Atlanta Police Department was always "in command of the crime scene."

MARTA officials said Friday that they had sent three transit police officers from the Five Points station after Atlanta police requested assistance. Four transit police officers remained at the station, where Nichols presumably boarded a northbound train for Lenox Square mall.

Gene Wilson, the MARTA police chief, said his force performed well.

"We did what we had agreed to do to help secure and evacuate the courthouse and to put extra people around the station looking for people. I can't go back and say there is something that I feel like was a glaring error."

Even though Atlanta police say they are convinced Nichols took MARTA — largely on the merits of witnesses — MARTA surveillance tapes have yielded no images of Nichols, Wilson said.

"We have no image of him coming in or leaving the station," Wilson said. "That is not for me to say that he didn't use MARTA.."

Wilson said that Atlanta police called MARTA at 9:22 a.m. seeking backup at the courthouse.

Wilson said through all of the chaos, there was never any thought of shutting down the train system because police believed Nichols was traveling by car.

"There was never any indication that he was on MARTA," Wilson said. "Why didn't we shut down (Interstate) 285? This was a chaotic situation — three dead people — that is not an easy situation to manage."

"We felt there was never a point to shut the system down," Wilson said. "We thought he was in a green Honda."

Pennington said his officers did a good job securing crime scenes, staking out the homes of Nichols' friends and relatives and sharing information with other agencies. He said a police hotline received as many as 1,500 tips, though few turned out to be helpful.

Communication between agencies could have been a problem because Atlanta police radios are incompatible with those used by Fulton deputies and because the various agencies use their own code words. But Pennington said officers from the agencies converged on the courthouse and were able to talk face to face.

'Nothing to hide'

In a crisis where officers are dispersed across a large area, however, lack of communication can hamper operations, Pennington warned. If something like the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 were to happen here, he said, "we wouldn't be able to share information."

Franklin said Friday's news briefing was intended "to demonstrate that we have nothing to hide." Both she and Pennington said a fuller review would follow, and the results would be made public.

— Staff writer Rhonda Cook contributed to this article.

Extra security absent before shootings
> Guards assigned to courtroom


>
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
> Published on: 03/19/05

Fulton County Sheriff Myron Freeman said Friday that extra deputies were supposed to have been assigned to the courtroom of slain Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes, but those deputies had not yet arrived at their posts when police say accused rapist Brian Nichols shot the judge and his court reporter.

A "formal request for extra security was never requested by the judge," Freeman said in a written response to e-mailed questions. "There was extra security provided, but on Friday [the day of the shooting], extra security had not arrived yet because staff had not yet completed daily functions on metal detectors and detention areas. Also, [Nichols' rape] trial had not started yet."

Whether courthouse security was adequate is a critical question that officials have promised to answer once all the investigations of the events that day are complete.

Nichols, on trial for raping his former girlfriend, reportedly overpowered deputy Cynthia Hall, a petite 51-year-old, in a holding cell. She had just unshackled him so he could change from his jail-issued jumpsuit into street clothes. According to reports, he retrieved Hall's gun from a locked cabinet, then ran unnoticed to Barnes' courtroom, where he locked the lone deputy on duty in a closet.

Police say Nichols then entered the eighth-floor courtroom and shot Barnes and court reporter Julie Brandau. He then descended eight flights of stairs before encountering Sgt. Hoyt Teasley on the sidewalk just outside a side door. Witnesses say Nichols shot Teasley before running into a parking garage.

Freeman acknowledged that security has long been an issue at the courthouse, the busiest in the state. "Historically, there has been a shortage of staff. . . through a one-year freeze on hiring, the adding of extra judges and normal . . . retirement, resignation, etc."

Nonetheless, two extra deputies were assigned to Barnes' courtroom after two metal "shanks" — a term commonly used for homemade knives — were found in Nichols' socks.

Freeman said Hall knew of the security concerns about Nichols, 33, and weighing 210 pounds, but he said, she "is a seasoned deputy who has been working with rapists and murderers daily for years."

Freeman also wrote in his response that two people usually are assigned to the control room to monitor feeds from cameras scattered around the courthouse. One of those cameras was focused on the holding cell where Hall was attacked, but, reportedly, no one saw the beating.

Freeman did not respond specifically to questions about the staffing of that control room but said: "Two staff persons were monitoring 51 cameras in addition to multitasking of monitoring alarms, answering phones, elevators, etc. One of those is also responding to EMT [emergency medical technician] calls."



Gwinnett County Police Give Kudos for Manhunt (click on blue box)




William F. Buckley, Jr. Human butchery. What to do?

SUSAN ESTRICH



Book Review: MEN IN BLACK

How America has turned from the most representative form of government to rule by an oligarchy of judges

Men in Black

by Levin, Mark R.

From same-sex marriage, illegal immigration, and economic socialism to partial birth abortion, political speech, and terrorists' "rights," judges have abused their constitutional mandate by imposing their personal prejudices and beliefs on the rest of society. No radical political movement has been more effective in undermining our system of government than the judiciary. And we, the people, need not stand for it.

In Men in Black, Mark Levin explodes myth after myth about the federal judiciary, including the biggest one of all: the idea that Supreme Court judges are somehow imbued with greater insight, wisdom, and vision than the rest of us -- and that for some reason Almighty God has endowed them with superior judgment about justice and fairness. But as Levin demonstrates again and again in these pages, judges are men and women with human imperfections and frailties. Some have indeed been brilliant, honorable, and moral, but others have been corrupt, unprincipled, racist, and even mentally impaired (yes, Levin names names).

Levin shows here that for two centuries now the courts have grabbed ever more authority over our society. Marshaling an awesome amount of data from history and contemporary court cases, he illustrates conclusively that judicial activists are nothing short of radicals in robes: contemptuous of the rule of law, subverting the Constitution at will, and using their public trust to impose their policy preferences on society.

Men In Black proves that neither the Founding Fathers nor the founding documents of our republic support the current supremacy of the judiciary. He explores the 200-year-old Supreme Court ruling that was nothing less than a counter-revolution against the Constitutional system of separation of powers. And he demonstrates how for 200 years, the elected branches have largely acquiesced to the judiciary's tyranny.

Dissecting the flawed and politicized judgments of the key decisions involved, Levin establishes that the Court's ongoing intensive and concerted effort to exclude references to religion or God from public places is an attack on our founding principles. What's more, it's an attempt to bolster a growing reliance on the government -- especially the judiciary -- as the source of our rights. He also lays bare the Court's fallacious reasoning on affirmative action, abortion, immigration law, gay marriage, and other key issues, showing how the Court has legislated hard-left and Socialist politics from the bench -- and even moved to stifle free political debate. Levin even shows how Islamic terrorists have used the Court to interfere with the Bush Administration's anti-terror efforts.

Above all, Levin outlines practical ways that we can bring the out-of-control federal judiciary to heel and restore Constitutional rule. If we're to remain a great Republic -- where the people "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights" -- we must not quietly accept the fate the courts have in store for us: we must oppose tyranny, whatever the form. It's time for a serious national debate about the role of the judiciary in modern America; this book is the crucial foundation for that debate.

Mark Levin exposes the full extent of judicial tyranny:

  • Why we will never be able to regain democratic self government -- and truly change the direction of public policy -- until we curb activist judges

  • How activist judges have managed to take over school systems, prisons, and private hiring and firing practices; ordered local governments to raise property taxes and states to grant benefits to illegal immigrants; and expelled God, prayer and the Ten Commandments from the public square

  • What the Founding Fathers really intended the powers of the Supreme Court to be

  • The forgotten American patriot who predicted that the Supreme Court would eventually arrogate to itself power over the other branches of government

  • How America reached the point where the federal judiciary has effectively amassed more influence over modern life than any other branch of government

  • Why, contrary to the Court's claim in Roe v. Wade, the framers assumed no general right to privacy -- because criminal and evil acts can be committed in privacy!

  • How many of today's Supreme Court justices will rely on anything but the Constitution to guide their decision-making

  • The controversial and disgraceful behavior of the American Bar Association in giving highly politicized ratings to nominees for the federal bench<>
  • The Supreme Court justice who admitted that today's Court "bristles with hostility to all things religious in public life"

  • Bush v. Gore: how it stopped a rogue state supreme court from violating the rule of law -- yet how it opened the door for future courts to interfere in close elections, both at the state and federal levels

  • The liberal cabal of hard left Democrat senators who will fight tooth and nail against any nominee to the Supreme Court who takes the Constitution seriously -- and the president's potent short-term weapon to beat back this obstructionist minority

  • The clear-thinking Supreme Court justice who argued it is time to discard the many layers of ill-considered opinions and "begin the process of rethinking the Establishment Clause"

  • The McCain-Feingold campaign finance law: how it restricts your right to free speech -- especially political speech -- with the active support of the courts

  • Same-sex marriage: why this issue, like few others, will determine whether Congress has the will finally to defend its constitutional role as the public's federal representative body

  • How the independence of the judiciary can be preserved -- and the unconstitutional influence of the federal courts curtailed
"This book couldn't be more timely or important, as liberals continue shamelessly to thwart the people, Congress, the president, and state governments. . . . Mark Levin's Men in Black provides an indispensable historical and constitutional context. And, it offers suggested solutions to remedy the serious problems we face. Let me tell you, folks, this is a subject in need of our urgent attention. And this book provides the ammunition you need to defend your liberty." -- Rush Limbaugh

Clinton Camp Fires First Shot At Kerry Camp...


Sen John Kerry (Herald file photo by Ted Fitzgerald)

BIDEN RIPS KERRY OVER 'TERROR STRATEGY'...


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