TBR News February 12, 2016

Feb 12 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. February 12, 2016: ”ActressMeryl Streep proclaiming that ‘we all came from Africa originally,’ is wrong.

The so-called Neanderthal man did indeed originate in Africa and slowly spread to what is now Europe. However, the Neanderthal was of limited intellect, low of forehead and was eventually run out of business by the so-called Cro Magnon.

The Cro-Magnon appeared about 35,000 years ago, at the mouth of the Volga River just above the Black Sea. He did not evolve in Africa, was white, had reddish blonde hair, blue eyes and was both intelligent and creative. He tamed the wild horse and slowly moved up into the Europe until he covered most of that area.

With the last glacial age, the Cro-Magnon adapted to the harsh climate and the Neanderthal did not.

No one knows where the Cro-Magnon people, who later were called Celtic, developed.

There is no trace of him anywhere prior to 35,000 years ago while the Neanderthal descended from Lucy the Chimpanzee.

There is an idealistic theory that all mankind came from the same source, in Africa, but this is sociological wishful thinking.

I call this the ‘Kumbaya’ club and we see manifestations of it daily on the idiotic social media and other public forums.

And to this we hear the shrill bleatings of the Evangilical Christians whose grasp of history is as dim as their intellects.

The discovery of the humaniod Flores man has them in an uproar because, like the members of the Kumbaya club, they frantically want to believe that God created all of humanity equal and at the same time.

This is nothing but wishful thinking on the part of our society that daily contends with massive inferiority complexes and seeks to reduce everyone to a common denominator.

I suppose that’s why we have the Special Olympics.

What’s next?

A Mongoloid idiot in the White House?

A hairlip screeching their lines in a motion picture production?

How about a club-footed Senegambian hunchback becoming a model for women’s wear?

If Ms Streep feels she came from Africa, perhaps she ought to return to her origins, don a grass skirt, put a bone in her nose and run and hide from Simba the Lion.”


Conversations with the Crow

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal , Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment. Three months before, July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md. After Corson’s death, Trento and his Washington lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever

After Crowley’s death and Trento’s raid on the Crowley files, huge gaps were subsequently discovered by horrified CIA officials and when Crowley’s friends mentioned Gregory Douglas, it was discovered that Crowley’s son had shipped two large boxes to Douglas. No one knew their contents but because Douglas was viewed as an uncontrollable loose cannon who had done considerable damage to the CIA’s reputation by his on-going publication of the history of Gestapo-Mueller, they bent every effort both to identify the missing files and make some effort to retrieve them before Douglas made any use of them.

Douglas had been in close contact with Crowley and had long phone conversatins with him. He found this so interesting and informative that he taped  and later transcribed them.

These conversations have been published in a book: ‘Conversations with the Crow” and this is an excerpt.




Conversation No. 10

Date:  Monday, April 22, 1996

Commenced: 11:17 AM CST

Concluded:   11:59 AM CST

GD: Good morning, Robert. I wanted to let you know the box is finished and I have checked it out. The neighbor’s cat started screeching like a maniac and kept it up for the ten minutes I left the thing plugged in.

RTC: Wonderful news, Gregory. I am so looking forward to receiving it. Send it to the drop address I gave you and use the name we decided on.

GD: No problem at all, Robert. It uses regular household current and on one side you will find a dial and a toggle switch. The switch turns it on and off and the dial adjusts the level of noise. I mean you won’t hear any noise but that’s as good a term as anything else. If you have pets, be careful to aim the box towards the embassy, better up against the window, which I would keep open during operational times. I suggest you turn it on and off about three or four times during the day but never leave it on for more than ten minutes. You want general malaise but not protracted agony.

RTC: And if their windows are closed?

GD: Even better. The glass acts as a sounding board. If the curtains or drapes are open, get a pair of glasses and stand back from the window and watch for reactions. If not, just turn it on and off from time to time. You won’t get people with exploding heads but eventually you’ll hear about it.

RTC: I suppose exploding Swiss diplomats would cause a stir.

GD: I would think so. Now, I’ll send this out today before five and then let you know. I won’t send it registered because then your Mr. Fake Name would have to sign for it.

RTC: Understood. You’ll be in my debt for this, Gregory.

GD: My pleasure.

RTC: And I’ve been digging out Kennedy material for you.

GD: Wonderful, Robert. Now that that’s taken care of, I would like to ask you about something I found in Mueller’s journals. I’m translating them and believe me, it’s not the easiest job. His German is short and to the point but not very cultured and I was brought up to speak Hanoverian German. Mueller’s material reads like police reports. Anyway, there was a passage I really want to verify with you. I mean I will read my translation to you in toto and then let me know if you know anything about it, either first or second hand. It’s such a nasty piece of work that Bender won’t want to publish it unless I get some confirmation. It isn’t too long.

RTC: Read on.

GD: OK, here we go: Now remember that Mueller moved from DC to Warrenton and lived on a large estate with his wife. He calls her Bunny and that’s who he’s talking about. It starts out


Friday, 12. July, 1951

Such a damned outrage! This is very hard to put down but I really ought to just for reference and also for relieving me of the pressure. I went out for a ride this morning, in spite of the weather. I thought it would be my last before I went on the trip and I do enjoy the rides now. I have gotten used to the horse and he to me. So early this morning, I went out riding and worked my way across the property to the area where the CIA unit was installed.

I smelt it before I got to it and so did the horse. A very unhappy horse and later, a very unhappy Heini! The stench was terrible as I approached the fenced-in trailers with their antenna stuck up on top of two of the trailers. There was a path leading down the hillside but the horse balked so I had to dismount and lead him down the path. I wanted to see what smelt so bad and I found out very quickly. In a small clearing were two human bodies, very much decayed and bloated. There were two men wearing some kind of blue shirts and pants and badly infested with maggots. They appeared to be black men but given the advanced state of corruption, it was not a certainty.

I remounted at the top of the path and rode over to the fenced area but no one was in sight. By this time, I was becoming very angry and went back home at a good canter and later a gallop. Phone calls to the CIA people. There are dead human bodies on my land! What is going on there? Silly, placating answers. Not good enough for me. Get rid of these things or I will call the local police and mortician at once! No, no, sir, do not do that! was the response. They would send someone right out to clean it up. I was please not to call anyone. It was (the usual shit) a matter of national security! National security indeed! Two dead blacks and how did they get there?

I want Bunny to know nothing about this. She came in when I was shouting at the CIA fool so I had to pretend it was something else. Oh yes, they came almost at once in a station wagon and drove in at the gate and then out to the charnel house. Another car came with two smooth-faced young men who wanted to talk to me privately. Into the library and later Bunny said she could hear me shouting one floor up through three closed doors! Angry is not the word to use, believe me.

What have these swine done now? It seems that the CIA is interested in mind control and were “practicing” on “willing” subjects. They wanted to see if some new radio system would have any effect on humans so they obtained several “volunteers” from a Virginia jail and experimented on them. They used radio microwaves in varying degrees of intensity on these poor fellows and literally roasted them alive! The bodies were tossed down the hill and it had been planned to bury them quietly on my farm!

There was a change of personnel and someone forgot the dead blacks!

When I asked these two sleek weasels about this, the reply was so awful I could not believe it! It seems that the CIA has no problem roasting people alive as long as they are convicted black criminals! Isn’t that a wonderful attitude? One of the CIA people said, in such an offhanded way as to infuriate me that no one cared about blacks because they were scarcely human!

It took an enormous amount of self-control on my part to keep me from picking up a poker from the fireplace and doing great damage to these two worms. I threw both of them out and ordered them to not only remove the bodies but their experimental station as well. I told them that if I heard one more word of this insane behavior I would personally take it to the President first and the newspapers second.

White faces and many apologies. They crawled out and I had a very stiff drink to calm down again. The station wagon left, the driver had a white mask over his face and the other one threw up on the driveway as the car bumped along!

Fortunately, Bunny saw, smelt or heard nothing and I had to go up and lie terribly to her. I am totally frustrated by this because my first instinct, besides shoving my shoe up their assholes, was to put them under arrest and turn them over to the local police for obvious murder. I can’t do that in my position but I would go to Harry with this if I ever hear about it again.

Mind control indeed!

Later: I spoke very sharply with (Walter Bedell, ed.) Smith when I calmed down and he was also furious. Told me that there are elements in the organization that are “completely lunatic” and he will speak with “someone” about this. I told him that if I ever heard of such psychotic nonsense again, the President would be the next on my list of callers and Smith said not to worry about this reoccurrence. No doubt the lunatics will go somewhere else. If I ever catch these evil swine on the property again, I will turn Arno loose on them and he can certainly earn his pay.

Apparently, they (the CIA, ed.) are involved in “mind control” work. This consists of drugging people, using electric shock on others, God knows what else! You should see some of the thoroughly lunatic types that scuttle up and down the halls, mumbling to themselves while clutching files to their breasts like a mama monkey with a dead baby. As expected, Wisner is involved in this madness. And him with a well-endowed (from the photos) black lover! When they are not burning people to death or looting the safes of cash, they are encouraging all kinds of strange madness.

I have no time for my journal now and am getting ready to leave here on the 19th for a working vacation. Will get in touch with Willi (Krichbaum. A former SS colonel who was Müller’s deputy in the Gestapo and later a senior employee of Colonel Critchfield’s CIA-controlled Gehlen organization in Munich, ed.) and then a musical interlude. I cannot see the family because they are still watched but will drop a card to Sophie.

There will be no mention of the new wife or the forthcoming (I hope) child. No point of putting honey on your ass and squatting on an anthill, is there?”


RTC: My God, Gregory! He wrote that?

GD: Yes, he did but in German. Is it true?

RTC: They did….I mean these mind control idiots did far worse than that. Is that true? I don’t doubt it for a second. Cameron 1 once decided to put a woman into ice water to see if he could break down her resistance and she died of shock. That sort of thing. Loaded one of their own with LSD and when he started screaming, got frightened and tossed him out of a hotel window. Oh, and we mustn’t forget the Goat Boy. That’s the strange Dr. Gottleib.2 We called him that because he lived in a hovel and kept a bunch of goats around. He used to have sexual affairs with them. Gregory, we have had lots of people like that. Fortunately, for my sanity at least, and my reputation, I was in the intelligence branch and I left the care and feeding of the nut fringe to others with stronger stomachs. Believe it? I have no knowledge of that incident but I believe it. I can see why your Mr. Bender would be queasy about that. You know, if things like this ever become really public, they will burn all of us at the stake. I personally never was involved with such madness and actually, outside of my own areas, I had no real idea what we were up to but I can tell you that we had more than our share of raging nuts on board.

GD: Do you have any problems if I publish it?

RTC: That’s not my call, Gregory. They would have a fit over there but I’m not in service anymore and I can plead ignorance of the whole thing. Is there more like that in these diaries?

GD: That’s mild, very mild, Robert. Getting paid to kill the Iranian prime minister.

RTC: That I know about. Who was the prime mover here?

GD: Anglo-Iranian and Angleton.

RTC: Could you make a copy of that one and send it to me? We don’t need to discuss it on the phone. My God, the burned darkies were bad enough.

GD: Where do your people recruit?

RTC: St. Elizabeth’s does occur to me as a natural source.

GD: A church?

RTC: No, a local asylum.

GD: Robert, thanks for the patience and watch for the box. If it gets lost, I can have another made. Let me leave you now and I will get back to work on the Mueller material. OK?

RTC: I have a nice new name for you, Gregory. Try Mr. Sunshine.

GD: That’s such a happy name, Robert. And it does fit me so well.

RTC: I’ll call you the moment the package arrives. I’ll thank you for the poems.

GD: For sure. Goodbye.

RTC: Goodbye, Gregory.


(Concluded at 11:59 AM CST)

Last four occupiers at Oregon wildlife refuge set to surrender

February 11, 2016

by Shelby Sebens


PORTLAND, Ore-The last four armed protesters occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon were set to surrender on Thursday, hours after authorities arrested the Nevada rancher whose sons started the showdown.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Cliven Bundy, 74, of Nevada was arrested on Wednesday evening in Portland. He was reportedly on his way to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in remote eastern Oregon to support the militants in their protest over federal land control in the West.

Led by his son, Idaho rancher Ammon Bundy, the occupation has stretched for 41 days, and the last four occupiers were prepared to surrender to the FBI on Thursday morning.

A number of the occupiers were relating their account of events via an independent Internet broadcast, “Revolution Radio,” that is known to be sympathetic to the occupation.

The elder Bundy faces conspiracy and weapons charges, the Oregonian newspaper reported. He led a 2014 standoff with the government over Nevada grazing rights that ended with federal agents backing down in the face of about 1,000 armed militiamen.

His sons, Ammon and Ryan, face the same conspiracy charge for their role in the Oregon standoff, which started on Jan. 2.

The occupation was sparked by the return to prison of two Oregon ranchers convicted of setting fires that spread to federal property in the vicinity of the refuge. It also was  directed as a protest against federal control over millions of acres of public land in the West.

Ammon Bundy and 10 others were arrested in January in Oregon, most of them during a confrontation with the FBI and state police on a snow-covered roadside where a spokesman for the group, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, was shot dead. A 12th member of the group surrendered to police in Arizona.

The fate of Bundy and other members of the group who remain in custody has been clouded by the four holdouts, who joined the protest after it started. A judge has cited the continuing standoff as a major obstacle to the release of at least some of those who remain jailed on federal charges.

The four remaining protesters were indicted last week along with 12 others previously arrested on charges of conspiring to impede federal officers during the occupation.

(Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Last four occupiers surrender at Oregon wildlife refuge, ending 41-day standoff

February 11, 2016

by Jimmy Urquhart


Burns, Ore-The four holdouts in an armed protest at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon surrendered on Thursday, with the last occupier repeatedly threatening suicide during an intense phone call with mediators before he finally walked out, ending the 41-day standoff with the FBI.

David Fry, 27, had stayed behind for more than an hour and told supporters by phone he had not agreed with the other three to leave. The call was broadcast live on an audio feed posted on the Internet.

“I’m actually pointing a gun at my head. I’m tired of living,” Fry said during the phone call. He later added, “Until you address my grievances, you’re probably going to have to watch me be killed, or kill myself.”

Fry finally surrendered and authorities could be heard over the phone line telling him to put his hands up before the call disconnected. Portland’s KGW television later showed a caravan of sport utility vehicles escorted by police driving out of the refuge in remote eastern Oregon.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement the final four occupiers had surrendered and face charges of conspiracy to impede federal officers, along with 12 others previously arrested.

“The occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge has been a long and traumatic episode for the citizens of Harney County and the members of the Burns Paiute tribe,” U.S. Attorney Billy Williams said in the statement. “It is a time for healing, reconciliation amongst neighbors and friends, and allowing for life to get back to normal.”

Williams said now that all of the protesters had been taken into custody, law enforcement officials would “assess the crime scene and damage to the refuge and tribal artifacts.”

Oregon standoff: Cliven Bundy faces six federal charges over 2014 confrontation

Cliven Bundy’s arrest is a stunning turn in the 41-day Oregon militia standoff, and a two-decades-long dispute over illegal grazing of cattle on federal land

February 11, 2016

by Julia Carrie Wong and Sam Levin in San Francisco

The Guardian

Cliven Bundy, the father of Malheur national wildlife refuge occupiers Ammon and Ryan Bundy, has been charged with six federal crimes stemming from his confrontation with the federal government in 2014.

The charges, filed on the same day that the final four occupiers of Malheur surrendered to law enforcement officials and one day after his arrest in Portland, Oregon, marked a stunning turn in a two-decades-long dispute over Bundy’s illegal grazing of cattle on federal land.

Bundy had remained free for nearly two years after he engaged in an armed standoff with the federal government, angering many. The public interest group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has tried to put pressure on the US attorney to file charges in the case in order to dissuade other anti-government activists from engaging in similar activities.

Bundy is accused of conspiracy to commit an offense against the US; assault on a federal officer with a deadly weapon; use and carry of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence; interference with commerce by extortion; obstruction of the administration of justice; and aiding and abetting.

The 69-year-old rancher left Nevada on Wednesday evening to travel to Oregon after learning that the FBI was moving to end the Malheur occupation. Though his son Ammon had pleaded with the final standouts to surrender, Cliven Bundy remained intransigent, telling the Guardian that he was “taking control of things”.

I don’t know whether I’ll be a negotiator or maybe a demander,” he told the Guardian by phone on Wednesday night, as he prepared to travel to Oregon. “I hope I save some lives, for one thing.”

But Bundy never made it to Malheur. He was arrested upon his arrival in Portland and is expected to appear in federal court on Thursday afternoon.

Briana Bundy, wife of Cliven’s son Mel Bundy, criticized federal prosecutors for going after the family patriarch for a standoff that happened in 2014. “If they have something to charge him with, why didn’t they do it two years ago?” she said, adding of the accusations. “They are all bogus, and it’s nonsense.”

Briana said the government’s case was weak. “It’s their job to prove guilt, not our job to prove innocence.” The family was trying to figure out what their next step would be, Briana continued. “We’re stressed out and we have a lot of things to get accomplished,” she said, adding: “We’re planning on staying the course.”

Cliven Bundy’s dispute with the federal government dates to 1993, when Bundy began to graze his cattle on public land while “knowingly refus[ing]” to pay fees or obtain the proper permits, according to the complaint. The fees were reportedly as low as $1.35 per cow per month.

In 1998, a federal court ordered Bundy to remove his cattle and began levying fines against him, but the situation did not come to a head until more than a decade later, when the US Bureau of Land Management made plans to seize 1,000 of Bundy’s cattle.

According to the complaint, the BLM made arrangements for the cattle to be impounded and auctioned, but were stymied when Bundy conspired to “impede, obstruct and interfere” with the operation.

That interference played out on national television, as Bundy recruited hundreds of armed sympathizers to descend on the ranch and protect the cattle from impoundment. The complaint describes the standoff as “a massive armed assault against federal law enforcement officers in and around Bunkerville, Nevada, in order to extort the officers” into releasing 400 seized cattle.

The complaint refers specifically to the events of 12 April 2014, when Bundy allegedly directed his supporters in a planned assault on the corralled cattle, describing how the group divided in two in order to distract law enforcement agents in one area while sending another group to attack law enforcement’s “most vulnerable point”.

The group allegedly “took tactically superior positions on high ground”, with some gunmen assuming “sniper positions behind concrete barriers, their assault rifles aimed directly at officers below”. The group is also accused of using unarmed protesters as “human shields” to hide the activity of armed protesters.

The tactics of Bundy’s followers were successful. Law enforcement officers found themselves outnumbered and outmatched, and abandoned the cattle.

The complaint details how Bundy and four unnamed co-conspirators worked together to recruit the supporters who massed on the Bundy ranch in 2014, using the internet to disseminate messages to a network of like-minded people, some of which were false and designed to inflame the passions of rightwing activists.

On 8 April 2014, for example, Bundy allegedly broadcast messages on the internet stating that the federal government had surrounded his house with snipers and officers armed with assault rifles.

Though law enforcement retreated after the 12 April standoff, the complaint alleges that criminal activity in the form of employing bodyguards and thwarting the impoundment of the cattle continued up until Bundy’s arrest and charge.

Baily Logue, Cliven’s 24-year-old daugher, told the Guardian: “Anytime anyone speaks out against the federal government, we are taken down, put into jail and detained … But we’re not backing down, and this is not going to make us any weaker at all. This is only making us stronger.”

Two-thirds of US shale oil rigs shut down – Total CEO

February 11, 2016


American shale drillers have closed two-thirds of all the country’s oil rigs; TASS quotes the head of France’s Total Patrick Pouyanne.

“Since March 2015 we are witnessing a decline in oil shale output in the United States, which has been reduced by 500,000 barrels per day. We don’t know how fast it will fall but we know that two-thirds of drilling rigs is no more working there,” Pouyanne said on Thursday at the International Petroleum Week forum.

Oversupply of oil on the global market amounts to two percent according to Pouyanne, and the price of it is now impossible to predict.

“The price of oil is unstable right now; it can stand at $40 a barrel today and reach $80 a barrel tomorrow…,” said Total’s CEO.

The price of shale oil on the US market has fallen by two-thirds while production by 15 percent, according to the head of Russia’s Rosneft Igor Sechin.  “Shale oil production in the United States will decline in the long-term and reach bottom by 2020,” Sechin said.

Falling oil prices have reduced the profitability of oil extraction which impacts drilling activity. In the early part of last year, the US rig count was down 850 from the year before. About 17,000 oil and gas workers in the US lost their jobs in 2015. When adding the oilfield support jobs lost in refineries and petrochemical plants, the actual number of related layoffs grew to about 87,000, according to Michael Planet, an economist at the Dallas Fed.

US oil and gas producers are expected to announce 2015 losses totaling over $15 billion, according to Bloomberg analysis earlier this month. Companies have already announced huge earnings losses, output and spending cuts.

Obama Celebrates Nine Years of Doing Nothing About Money in Politics

February 10, 2016

by Jon Schwartz

The Intercept

President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, on Wednesday, nine years to the day after he kicked off his first presidential campaign there, and, just like in 2007, spoke passionately about his desire to reduce the influence of big money in politics.

In 2007, Obama said, “The cynics, and the lobbyists, and the special interests [have] turned our government into a game only they can afford to play. … They think they own this government, but we’re here today to take it back.”

On Wednesday, Obama told the Illinois legislature, “We have to reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics that makes people feel like the system is rigged.”

This time, of course, Obama is president and could actually do something about it. There are many actions he could take on his own, without approval from Congress or the courts. In particular, he could issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose any “dark money” contributions to politically active nonprofits.

Obama did mention dark money in his speech, saying that it “drowns out ordinary voices.”

He also mentioned the general concept of taking presidential action on his own, but only for comedic value: “I don’t pretend to have all the answers. … If I did I would have already done them through executive action! That was just a joke, guys.”

Activists have delivered over 1 million signatures to the White House demanding that Obama sign an executive order on dark money. A similar petition set up via the White House website’s system passed the 100,000 signatory threshold requiring the Obama administration to respond.

The White House recently posted a desultory answer to the petition that quotes Obama as saying that “We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics”  — but doesn’t acknowledge the petition’s demand that Obama, not “we,” take specific action. Kurt Walters, campaign manager at Rootstrikers and one of the petition’s organizers, called the response “offensive to the millions of Americans demanding an end to secret money influencing elections.”

In retrospect, Obama’s speech nine years ago was full of foreshadowing. “I understand the skepticism,” he said. “After all, every four years, candidates from both parties make similar promises. … But too many times, after the election is over, and the confetti is swept away, all those promises fade from memory, and the lobbyists and the special interests move in, and people turn away, disappointed as before, left to struggle on their own.”

Russia raises spectre of permanent or ‘world war’ if Syria talks fail

February 11, 2016

by John Irish


Munich-Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev raised the spectre of a permanent or a world war if powers failed to negotiate an end to the conflict in Syria and warned against any ground operations by U.S. and Arab forces.

Medvedev, speaking to Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper on the eve of a security conference in Munich, said the United States and Russia must exert pressure on all sides in the conflict to secure a ceasefire.

Asked about Saudi Arabia’s offer last week to supply ground troops if a U.S.-led operation were mounted against Islamic State, he said:

“This is bad as a ground offensive usually turns the war into a permanent one. Just look at what happened in Afghanistan and many other countries. I don’t need to remind you what happened in poor Libya.”

“The Americans and our Arab partners must think well: do they want a permanent war?” It would be impossible to win such a war quickly, he said according to a German translation of his words, “especially in the Arab world, where everybody is fighting against everybody”

“All sides must be compelled to sit at the negotiating table instead of unleashing a new world war.”

Russia is carrying out bombing sorties around the key city of Aleppo, in support of advances by troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. U.S. and other Western air forces are also involved in air strikes in northern Syria.


Capturing Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city before the war but now divided between rebel- and government-held sectors, would represent a major military victory for Assad and a symbolic prize for Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that Moscow had submitted proposals for implementing a ceasefire in Syria and was waiting for a reaction from international powers.

Lavrov was speaking ahead of a meeting in Munich with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss Syria.

Members of the United Nations Security Council pressed Russia on Wednesday to stop bombing Aleppo in support of the Syrian military offensive and allow humanitarian access ahead of a meeting of major powers in Germany on the conflict.

“You have no one power that can act alone,” Medvedev said. “You have Assad and his troops on one side and some grouping, which is fighting against the government on the other side. It is all very complicated. It could last years or even decades. What’s the point of this?”

(This version of the story was refiled to change byline)

(Reporting by John Irish, reporting by Joseph Nasr; editing by Ralph Boulton)

Bullish Vladimir Putin is running rings around the west in Syria

As US and its allies cling to hopes of a settlement, Russian president is changing facts on the ground – like he did in Ukraine

February 11, 2016

by Simon Tisdall

The Guardian

In the fog of Syria’s war, one thing appears clear: Russia is running rings around the US and its allies, militarily and diplomatically. While Washington clings to hopes of a negotiated settlement, Vladimir Putin is changing facts on the ground, just as he did in Ukraine in 2014.

It’s Putin’s game. And, so far, he’s winning.

When Russia’s president piled into the conflict last autumn in support of Bashar al-Assad, Barack Obama said a “quagmire” awaited him. The opposite has happened.

Russia’s military campaign has gradually taken off. Its air power has given Assad’s forces the edge. An effective coalition with Iranian, Lebanese and Iraq Shia militias has been forged on the ground.

A lightning offensive this month in the area around Aleppo in the north took anti-Assad rebels by surprise, severing a vital supply route to the city. More than 500 people have been killed by Russian airstrikes and 50,000 have fled towards the Turkish border, exacerbating the refugee crisis.

A bullish Putin plainly believes that given time, he can score decisive victories, ensuring the regime’s survival. In the meantime, his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, keeps up the appearance of genuine diplomatic engagement.

Lavrov was to hold talks with his US counterpart, John Kerry, in Munich on Thursday in a bid to keep the Geneva peace process alive. But Kerry – handicapped by Obama’s reluctance to increase US military involvement, lacking a credible alternative strategy and under fire from allies – is outgunned. His predicament has brought warnings in Washington of a looming “uncontrollable disaster”.

Russia’s gains are already stacking up. Desperate to get a deal, Kerry, in deference to Moscow, has all but dropped his previous insistence that Assad must stand down. He has muted US criticism of Russia’s preference for attacking anti-Assad rebels rather than Islamic State jihadis.

The outgoing French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, suggested this week that the US lacked commitment. Turkish leaders are more outspoken. They accuse Kerry of naivety over Putin’s intentions. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s president, said US mistakes were creating a “sea of blood” and Russia was engaged in “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide”.

Ankara, at odds with Moscow over airspace violations, is incensed by its developing military cooperation with Syrian Kurdish parties, whom Turkey regards as terrorists. On Wednesday, rebel-held Menagh airbase fell to a Kurdish assault supported by Russian aerial bombing. An infuriated Erdoğan hinted again at cross-border Turkish military intervention.

As during the Ukraine crisis, Putin has proven skilful in keeping his opponents off balance. Lavrov’s offer of a 1 March ceasefire looks, on the face of it, like an answer to Kerry’s prayers. It suggests to the outside world that Russia is behaving reasonably. In reality, such a plan, if accepted, could allow it time to clinch a decisive victory.

Muddying more pools, Russian spokesmen say its failure to attack Isis targets is the result of a US refusal to share intelligence. Moscow has also claimed US planes, not Russian ones, are bombing Aleppo.

American inaction and indecision have led Syrian rebel leaders to complain they are being abandoned. This in turn has made a successful resumption of the Geneva talks on 25 February less likely.

Putin’s wider strategic objectives are served by his Syria campaign. In the increasing flow of refugees heading north, Putin – and Assad – have found a weapon they can use to frighten, weaken and divide the EU and Nato, a long-standing Russian aim. The Syria intervention is also helping re-establish Russia as an influential player in the Middle East, even as US clout perceptibly declines.

If, as many expect, it proves impossible to advance the Geneva process amid a continuing welter of violence, Obama and Kerry may be forced to shift to “plan B”. But nobody, possibly including them, seems to know what this is.

The US military remains fixated on fighting Isis, not winning the wider war. The unlikely idea of deploying Saudi troops in Syria, floated this week by the US defence secretary, Ash Carter, is a measure of the risk-averse Obama administration’s cluelessness.

Putin’s game is not yet won. But he surely cannot believe his luck.

Fast, Precise, and Deadly

How Police Use a Dangerous Anti-Terrorism Tactic to End Pursuits

February 11, 2016

by Shaun Raviv

The Intercept

Thaanquarius Calhoun  liked to run from cops. In 2010, he fled from police in Georgia twice and was arrested for it each time. The next year he fled and was arrested again. On May 3, 2013, he did it again. Then, 11 days later, he ran from the cops for the very last time.

On that Tuesday afternoon, Calhoun, who was born and raised in Henry County, Georgia, was caught speeding on I-85, heading north, when a Banks County sheriff’s deputy put on his lights to pull the gray Toyota Corolla over for a traffic stop. Calhoun decided to hit the gas instead of the brakes and make a run for it, as he had so many times in the past. Police officers from Banks County, Franklin County, and eventually the Georgia State Patrol chased him at speeds exceeding 120 mph, with Calhoun and his pursuers weaving around cars on the highway.

At 2:03 p.m., after 14 minutes and 21 miles of pursuit, Trooper Donnie O’Neal Saddler decided that Calhoun had to be stopped to protect the lives of innocent people on the highway. Saddler pulled his car alongside Calhoun’s and performed, at 111 mph, what is called a Precision Immobilization Technique, or PIT maneuver, making contact with the back of Calhoun’s car and causing it to spin clockwise and careen off the side of the highway across the rumble strips and into a small embankment, eventually striking a tree. Calhoun was completely ejected from the car and sustained major injuries, but somehow survived.

If Calhoun had been alone in the car, he might have received little or no prison time, as he had with all his previous arrests for minor crimes. He was driving with a suspended license — and some counterfeit currency was later found in the wreckage — but his most serious offense was running from the police. That Tuesday, however, he had two friends as passengers, 20-year-old Relpheal Morton and 19-year-old Marion Shore. In court, Trooper Saddler described seeing Morton at the scene. “He was still in the back seat,” Saddler said. “He was kind of just looking around … I will never forget it. He just kept looking around.”

Morton, whom I was not able to interview for this article, must have been stunned to be alive and relatively unharmed. The crash was so violent that the car’s roof was ripped completely off. The car looked flattened, like a tank had ridden over it. In one of the police dashcam videos that shows the crash, pieces of the car fly dozens of feet in the air toward the camera. According to a report by the Georgia State Patrol’s Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team, “The damage to the Toyota Corolla was too extensive to describe all the damage.” It seems almost impossible that two people survived.

Marion Shore was not so lucky. She was sitting in the passenger seat, wearing her seatbelt, but the force of the crash was so strong that she was partially ejected from the car while it was flipping and rolling. Shore, the mother of a 3-year-old boy, was trapped halfway inside the car, in an in-between place where death was certain. The car rolled over her several times. The chief medical examiner for the state of Georgia examined Shore’s body and said in court that, as the car was rolling, the forces propelling it “literally bent her body almost in half.”

The PITG Maneuver  is a modified version of an anti-terrorist driving tactic that has been taught for four decades by BSR, a private training facility in West Virginia that works with U.S. military and law enforcement personnel. According to BSR, the technique was originally developed by Germany’s federal police to give security details the ability to take out a car that was threatening a convoy. In 1985, the maneuver was developed by the Fairfax County, Virginia, police department in order to end pursuits with little danger to police or the general public.

This is how it is supposed to work: An officer pulls alongside a fleeing vehicle so that the officer’s front bumper is just ahead of the other vehicle’s back bumper. The officer matches the fleeing driver’s speed, gently touches — not rams — the other vehicle, and then makes a quick quarter turn of the wheel toward it. The other car then spins out safely to a stop. According to California Highway Patrol instructions, “The key to proper execution of the PIT is finesse. Ideally, the initial contact with the subject vehicle should be so gentle the operator of the subject vehicle is not aware that contact has been made.” It’s a difficult maneuver to learn, even for seasoned police officers, because the training goes up against a lifetime of being told not to touch things with your moving vehicle, especially other cars. Officers are generally trained on closed roadways at speeds between 25 and 40 mph. The PIT is now used by agencies throughout the U.S., and if used correctly at slow speeds and in the right circumstances — little traffic, no bystanders, open road — it can be an effective and predictable method to cut short pursuits and save lives. At high speeds, it becomes a deadly force technique, a way to stop a driver at all costs. As one expert put it, the PIT would only be predictable at high speeds if performed “on an airport runway.”

One state agency in particular, the Georgia State Patrol, empowered by its vague, unrestrictive PIT maneuver policy, has been using the PIT at high speeds. Yet responsibility for the deaths of innocent passengers has been placed completely on the drivers whose cars were “pitted.” Thanquarius Calhoun, just 21 years old when he was caught speeding and decided to flee, received a life sentence for the death of his friend Marion Shore.

No comprehensive or reliable data has been collected on the PIT maneuver’s use nationwide, and no true empirical studies have been done on its effectiveness or safety. What little is known can be found only piecemeal, hidden within notoriously incomplete data on police pursuits in general.

Just over half of state law enforcement agencies train their officers in the PIT maneuver. Some call it “tactical vehicle interception,” or TVI, and in Kentucky they call it “legal intervention,” but it’s the same technique. You can get pitted on highways running the entire West Coast and in the Southeast from Florida to Virginia. You can get pitted driving from Michigan all the way to California, unless you go through North Dakota, Wyoming, or Montana. The Northeast is mostly PIT-free, with the exceptions of Maine, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. You can get pitted in Arkansas, Indiana, and Iowa. Texas’ Highway Patrol, with more than 2,000 troopers, is now piloting the PIT maneuver, and the Highway Patrol in South Carolina began using it in April 2015. Those are just the state agencies, and don’t include the roughly 18,000 city, county, and local agencies nationwide, each with its own ever-evolving policy on pursuits.

Although some state police agencies refused to reveal the details of their PIT maneuver policies (and in the case of Missouri, whether or not the PIT is used), the policies I have seen vary greatly. Most state that you should never pit a motorcycle or vehicles carrying hazardous materials. Some emphasize that you should take into account the condition of the road, visibility, pedestrians, traffic volume, and if there are other occupants in the car. The Florida Highway Patrol’s PIT policy, for example, tells officers to consider their proximity to blind curves, highway grades, bridges, guardrails, barriers, other traffic, freeway ramps, and roadside obstacles such as rocks, trees, deep ditches, signs, utility posts, traffic islands, and curbs.

Some agencies do not specify the type of eluder who can be pitted, whereas some make clear it must be someone who has committed, or is suspected of having committed, a felony. The Nevada Highway Patrol’s policy states that a PIT cannot be performed unless “the suspect is an actual or suspected felon who reasonably appears to represent a serious threat to society if not apprehended.” Some agencies require supervisory approval before an officer can pit; others prefer that the officer simply use good judgment.

Where the biggest differences lie is in perhaps the most important aspect: speed. Some agencies have very strict caps on the maximum speed at which a PIT maneuver can be performed, some have speed recommendations, and some omit any mention of speed whatsoever. The California Highway Patrol sets a hard cap of 35 mph, as recommended by the department that developed the technique in Fairfax County, Virginia. According to Don Gotthardt, a spokesperson for the Fairfax police department, “We know with great certainty where a violator will end up at speeds 45 mph or lower.” Indiana State Police sets the cap at 50 mph, Michigan State Police and New Hampshire State Police cap it at 40 mph, and Iowa State Patrol caps it at 35 mph. In Virginia and Washington, state agencies require supervisory approval if an officer is going to pit at more than 40 mph, and in Oregon and Wisconsin, the PIT is considered use of deadly force if performed above 35 mph, so officers better have a damn good reason to use it.

The Georgia State Patrol’s PIT  policy states that “if the trooper or troopers in the pursuit determine that the fleeing vehicle must be stopped immediately to safeguard life and preserve public safety, the PIT maneuver may be used.” The policy does not specify a maximum speed, and Georgia appears to be by far the most aggressive of all state agencies when it comes to using the technique. While several agencies have policies without speed caps, the information I gathered shows a huge discrepancy in total maneuvers performed, and injuries and deaths resulting from them, between the Georgia State Patrol and other state agencies that use the PIT.

Since Georgia began using the PIT maneuver in 1998, at least 28 people have been killed and 296 injured in PIT-related pursuits, the vast majority of them riding in the fleeing vehicle. That number certainly understates the problem because data is either partially or entirely missing for eight of those years. The data I was able to collect was pieced together from open records requests, courts exhibits and depositions, and Georgia State Patrol reports. As far as I can determine, the agency has performed more than 1,100 PIT maneuvers since 1998, and 2015 had the largest annual number yet, with 155 performed. Roughly 20 percent of Georgia State Patrol pursuits involve a PIT maneuver, and the agency has never punished an officer for using it inappropriately.

In comparison, California’s Highway Patrol, which collects statistics from its own officers as well as from other California law enforcement agencies, listed 967 pursuits terminated with a PIT maneuver since 2002, about 1 percent of total pursuits, with only one death and 83 injuries. Minnesota’s State Patrol recorded 225 PITs since 2008, with no deaths and five minor injuries. The North Carolina State Highway Patrol reported 303 PIT maneuvers, with no deaths, since 2007. (North Carolina does not record injuries.) Maine’s State Police reported 17 PITs since 2012, with no injuries or deaths. Nebraska’s State Patrol reported 25 PITs, with two injuries and no deaths, since 2013. Indiana reported only five PIT maneuvers performed since 2009 and no injuries or deaths. Virginia State Police has trained officers in the PIT since January 2015, but none have performed the maneuver on duty.

There have also been fatalities in Nevada, Oklahoma, and Washington, but when you Google “PIT maneuver” and “death,” most of the hits point you to Georgia, specifically the Georgia State Patrol. Thanquarius Calhoun’s case provides some recent insight into what’s happening in Georgia, but an incident from more than 10 years ago reveals more details: the crash that resulted in the deaths of Katie Sharp and Garrett Gabe.

On the morning of August 17, 2004, 21-year-old Katie Sharp was driving her parents’ Nissan Pathfinder from Pennsylvania to her home in Holly Hill, Florida. In the car with Sharp was her boyfriend, 17-year-old Garrett Gabe. They were heading southbound on I-95 in South Carolina when she was caught speeding by Colleton County sheriff’s deputies. Sharp was doing 86 in a 70-mph zone. Perhaps because she had initially taken the car without her parents’ permission, or perhaps because she had run out of gas earlier that morning and had been chewed out by a police officer who saw her on the side of the road, or perhaps because her license had recently been suspended due to traffic violations, Sharp failed to stop when the sirens came on. Instead, she sped forward toward home, where her parents and young child were waiting for her.

Nobody will ever know exactly what was going through her head when she decided to try to outrun the cops — a terrible idea in almost any circumstances — because after leading officers on a high-speed chase for 50 miles in South Carolina, Sharp’s car entered Georgia. “They won’t get past my two, trust me,” a Georgia State Patrol dispatcher told a South Carolina dispatcher as the chase crossed state lines. They didn’t. Georgia took over the chase, and the 75-mile pursuit ended just 53 seconds after Trooper William Scott Fisher joined it.

Fisher saw Sharp driving erratically and dangerously at very high speeds. Hoping to save innocent bystanders, he later said, he pitted her SUV, which was traveling at 107 mph. The vehicle spun off the highway, clockwise, hurtling 400 feet over an embankment and into a tree. Both Katie Sharp and Garrett Gabe were killed. “The trooper executed his training. He acted properly,” said a Georgia State Patrol spokesperson. “It was a long, dangerous chase, and we felt we needed to stop it before some innocent bystander got killed.” Of course, an innocent bystander named Garrett Gabe did get killed. He just happened to be inside the car.

Katie Sharp

Sharp’s parents filed a lawuit against Fisher and other members of the Georgia State Patrol, and the case went to the United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit. According to a statement of material facts submitted to the court in 2007 on behalf of Fisher and his colleagues, “Fisher has no recollection of ever being told a specific speed that should be used before applying a PIT maneuver, just to use his judgment depending on the situation, to use his discretion as to whether other individuals were being placed at risk of death or serious bodily injury as a result of the actions of the person being pursued.”

Trooper Fisher didn’t even know why he was chasing Sharp. In a deposition, he said he assumed she had committed some serious crime or felony because she was being chased across state lines. In reality, the crime that started the chase was a simple moving violation. Fisher said, “I absolutely wanted to end the pursuit to save innocent people on the road that day. The way she was driving with total disregard, the way she was traveling, I thought she was going to kill somebody. I thought there was a certain death fixing to occur.” Instead, it was Fisher’s PIT maneuver that resulted in the deaths of two people, one of whom was utterly innocent. The other was guilty of speeding. “I just don’t think it’s right,” Charles Sharp, Katie’s father and a former police officer, told me. “He was judge, jury, and executioner in less than two miles.”

The most striking statements in the Sharp case came from Soffie Thigpen, the first female captain in the history of the Georgia State Patrol. Thigpen, who initially brought the PIT maneuver to Georgia, was a lieutenant at the time. In her 2006 deposition, Thigpen called the PIT maneuver that killed Katie Sharp and her boyfriend a “picture perfect” example and said that it would be perfectly reasonable to perform the maneuver at speeds most vehicles can’t even reach. “It’s okay to do a PIT from zero to whatever the car will run,” said Thigpen, “whether it be a hundred, 150 or 190, or 30.”

Geoffrey Alpert, an expert on high-risk police activities at the University of South Carolina, who was a paid consultant on the Sharp case, called Thigpen’s words “a shocking statement from someone who’s in a decision-making status in that department and training officers to conduct the PIT.” He said, “She’ll pit anything at any speed.”

When I reached Thigpen, now retired, on the phone, she reiterated her support for the maneuver. “The PIT’s probably the greatest technique that we’ve been doing in Georgia. It’s sending out a message that we won’t tolerate bad people running over folks. If you don’t stop, we’re going to stop you. It’s just that simple.” Her take is that the PIT has saved lives by stopping chases before they go on too long. “I never did understand why anybody thought there should be a speed limit on it. I never could get that,” she said in her deposition. At the time, 12 people had died as a result of PIT maneuvers in Georgia. “On paper, 12 fatalities is a large number, but when you look at the number of PITs and the possible lives that have been saved, the number is small in comparison.”

It’s certainly possible that lives have been saved as a result of PIT maneuvers, but the cars driven by Katie Sharp and Thanquarius Calhoun, which each held passengers as innocent as any bystander on the street, were purposefully pitted at extreme speeds. Counterfeit money was found at the scene of Calhoun’s wreck, but police didn’t know about it at the time of the pursuit, and no one was charged with possessing it. Both cars had been identified by their license plates well before the PIT maneuver was performed, and it would not have been difficult to track the drivers down and put them in jail at a later time if they truly were never going to stop.

At the time of Sharp’s death, the Georgia State Patrol’s PIT maneuver policy consisted of two sentences. It said merely that officers must use the PIT in accordance with training and “at reasonable speeds and in locations where it is reasonable to expect that the maneuver can be safely accomplished.” The policy has since been revised, but still allows officers plenty of leeway in determining a “reasonable speed” when performing the PIT in a given situation. The factors they must now consider are:a) Whether the violator is showing total disregard for public safety

b) Whether the violator is slowing but not stopping for stop signs or other traffic control devices

c) Whether the violator is darting at other vehicle

d) Whether the violator is driving on the wrong side of the road

e) Whether the violator is running other motorists off the road

Trooper Fisher admitted that he didn’t know how fast he was going when he pitted Sharp’s car. One expert brought in from Oklahoma said, “You can’t look at your speedometer and try to position yourself to the back of the vehicle and know what is ahead of you. You can’t do all that.” The Georgia State Patrol was comfortable with an officer performing a PIT maneuver on Sharp with no knowledge of his own speed — which happened to be 107 mph — while working under a policy in which “reasonable speed” was a key determinant. According to an internal affairs document, Trooper Fisher “acted in accordance with his training and within departmental policy.”

The 11th Circuit threw out the lawsuit, mostly based on a precedent set by another pursuit gone bad in Georgia. In 2001, 19-year-old Victor Harris fled Coweta County troopers who caught him doing 73 in a 55-mph zone. His car was eventually rammed (not pitted), and, as a result of his injuries, Harris was left a quadriplegic. He sued and his case made it to the Supreme Court. In the end, eight out of nine justices found that Harris’ driving was so dangerous that he posed a threat great enough to justify deadly force. The 11th Circuit judge in the Sharp case came to the same conclusion, though the presence of passenger Garrett Gabe was not mentioned as a factor and his name did not make it into the decision, essentially allowing the court to sidestep the fact that a second, innocent, person was in the car.

In 2006, the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police commissioned a white paper on pursuits and pursuit policy in the state, with a heavy focus on use of the PIT maneuver. The committee in charge asked the faculty at the Georgia Institute of Technology to study the technique’s safety. Four undergraduate engineering students executed the study, simulating a PIT maneuver in a computer engineering program, and determined that it was safe at both high and low speeds, in both wet and dry conditions. The simulation specified a car with a low center of gravity and wide tires. The study failed even to suggest anything that would happen on a real road with grass, bystanders, trees, and embankments, in any car but a simulated high-performance sports car that few people drive. Nevertheless, the Georgia committee relied on the students’ research in reaching its conclusion, writing, “It is the Committee’s opinion that the PIT maneuver is not deadly force because death or serious injury is not a likely consequence of using the PIT maneuver in accordance with proper training and policy.”

While the courts have said that using deadly force to stop a recklessly speeding fugitive is acceptable, Georgia’s police chiefs took a more radical position: that not withstanding the dozens of deaths it has caused, the PIT maneuver does not constitute deadly force at any speed.

In September,the police department in LaGrange, Georgia, invited me to a PIT-training exercise at a closed-off roadway in Monroe County. About a dozen police officers attended that morning to perform the PIT maneuver on one another. After some practice, each would have to perform four out of five PITs correctly — matching the pursued vehicle’s speed, touching it a single time without ramming, making a quarter turn of the steering wheel, and pitting it to a stop in a designated area — in order to be allowed to perform the PIT in a real-life situation.

I rode in both the cars performing the PITs and the target vehicles, all of which were driven at about 30 mph, the preferred speed for training. By the time the training had been underway for an hour, screeches could be heard from all sides of the track and there was a strong smell of burnt rubber in the air. The cars used at the training center were old beaters, one step away from the dump, but fitted with metals bars on both sides and roll bars in case something went wrong. The side mirrors were missing or hanging on wire threads, the windows didn’t roll up or down, and the bodies were covered in dents, bruises, and scratches. Without the metal bars, one of the instructors said, they’d be destroyed in a day.

If you can’t [pit] in training, I don’t have a lot of confidence that you can do it on the road,” Lt. Mark Kostial, one of four LaGrange PD PIT instructors, told me. “Remember, this is a thinking man’s game.” All involved wore helmets and heavy restraints.

As a passenger on both sides of the PIT, I found the force of the maneuver to be quite strong at 30 mph. It strained the neck to be in the pitted car, and was disconcerting to be spun off the roadway onto the grass. At 30 mph, the maneuver felt fairly controlled, and most, but not all, of the officers who trained that day passed. But they will rarely use the maneuver on the road. LaGrange’s police department, whose policy requires supervisory approval when a PIT is performed at more than 60 mph, has been training the PIT for about a dozen years, and the department has never had an injury that Chief Louis Dekmar can remember. Dekmar told me LaGrange will perform about two PITs in a typical year. Of course, LaGrange is a relatively small agency with only 80 or so people on the payroll.

One thing heavily emphasized by Lt. Kostial during the training was picking a location where a PIT maneuver may be safely performed. “If you’re going to spin someone out, it’s gotta be in the appropriate area. There’s a lot of responsibility in that,” Lt. Kostial told his trainees. Another instructor said, “There can be a speed that the PIT won’t work. The risks are too high. It’s not the be-all, end-all. … Just like we carry the belt and have a Taser and baton and gun, with the pursuit we have options.” LaGrange’s officers must be re-certified in the PIT every year.

When I asked the Georgia State Patrol why there was no speed restriction in its PIT policy, Capt. Mark Perry replied that, “A vehicle pursuit is not a static event, it is very fluid, dynamic and rapidly evolving evolution.” The Georgia Department of Public Safety, he said, “doesn’t feel it is prudent to constrict a decision to one factor such as a minimum or maximum speed. It has to be a totality of the circumstances.”

I also spoke to officers from agencies with more restrictive PIT policies about their speed caps, and the consensus was that PIT maneuvers are unsafe at high speeds. “At really high speeds,” Trooper Dallas Greer of Kentucky State Police told me, “it’s not something you can use safely.” Major Russell Conte of New Hampshire State Police agreed. “It’s a dangerous maneuver any way you look at it,” he said. “It’s dangerous for the public, it’s dangerous for the perpetrators, it’s dangerous for the troopers.”

Officer David Northway of the Tallahassee Police Department, just across the border from Georgia, told me that his department trains its officers to use the PIT judiciously, with a cap of 45 mph. “We do not want it to be used on a day-to-day basis because of its inherent dangers to officers, to drivers, innocent bystanders, and the general public,” Northway said. “Above 45, the speed is too high so it is unsafe, and there is the possibility of collision.” He also said that his officers must have supervisory permission before any PIT. “It’s not something that you can just go ahead and do.” Northway could not recall any injuries from PITs in the past five years.

For an international perspective, I reached out to Peter Hosking, formerly the police inspector in charge of the reform program dealing with high-speed police pursuits in Queensland, Australia. After 29 years working for the Queensland Police Service, Hosking is now researching high-speed police pursuits and police use of force at Griffith University. “PIT maneuvers are not permitted in any Australian jurisdiction,” he wrote in an email. “In this country we are very risk averse. We tend to see PIT maneuvers as very risky behavior. In effect, it is a form of dangerous driving, the very behavior we are trying to eliminate through enforcement.”

Geoffrey Alpert, the criminology professor at USC, can be found quoted in just about any academic or journalistic article written on pursuits. Alpert told me that nobody knows how many agencies use the PIT. He said that above 35 mph, the PIT “becomes a deadly force technique.” When I asked why some agencies don’t have a cap, he said, “They’re not familiar with the risks and the liabilities.”

Like any other piece of equipment, any other new technology,” Alpert told me, “when it’s used properly, it’s a very good technique. It’s just you gotta understand its limitations.”

In 2008, Ford Motor Company commissioned a paper on the PIT maneuver by three engineers, two from the University of Michigan and one from Ford. The authors created simulations in order to “provide guidelines for the effective execution of the maneuver.” Their intent was not to determine safety protocols for law enforcement agencies, but among their conclusions, the authors wrote, “PIT involves high risks, especially at elevated speed. The authors do not endorse the use of PIT maneuver at high-speed situations.”

At higher speeds, the combined effects of spinning and skidding after the maneuver is more pronounced,” the authors wrote. “Although it destabilizes the pursued vehicle to a larger extent, it is more likely to induce unintended injuries since the pursued vehicle skids more at higher speeds. Because the ultimate purpose of PIT maneuver is to prevent the pursued from proceeding forward, instead of throwing it into complete instability, the execution of PIT maneuvers should be limited to relatively low speeds.”

I can’t help but feel L like the GSP officer who executed the PIT maneuver should be on trial with him,” wrote Patti Shore, Marion’s mother, when Thanquarius Calhoun was arrested in 2014. “His whole way of thinking was, it wasn’t his fault,” Shore said of Calhoun. “He didn’t do it. The Georgia State Patrol officer did it. And this is where I agree.”

Patti Shore is mad at Calhoun, and has been since the day Marion died, but when I spoke to her, it was clear she was equally angry at Trooper Saddler and the Georgia State Patrol. During the one-day trial in March 2015, Shore passed a note to Calhoun, which Calhoun’s mother now keeps in her records. It reads, “Thanquarius, I just want you to know I forgive you. I miss my baby. She was my best friend. But I do forgive you & I know in part that fucken officer was at fault.”

I asked Shore why she felt the need to send Calhoun this message, and she said, “Because I felt like that was something my daughter would have wanted. She wouldn’t have wanted me to hate him, and in order for me to progress and get past this, I had to forgive him. But I haven’t forgiven that Georgia State Patrol officer. I can’t.”

One witness in the Sharp trial referred to an agency’s chosen pursuit policy as “a philosophical decision.” The decision to perform a PIT maneuver at high speeds can thus be seen as a choice to protect hypothetical people, victims who may or may not exist farther down the road. Patti Shore put it best when telling me about the district attorney who prosecuted Calhoun, but failed to place any blame on the officer who performed the PIT or the agency that allowed him to do so: “He made it all about the people that could have lost their lives,” she said. “Not the one that did.”

A clearer, more restrictive policy might help the Georgia State Patrol save more real lives rather than hypothetical ones. It might bring the numbers closer to those in California, where the PIT is practiced more safely. Georgia State Patrol officers wouldn’t have to “just go on their own feelings,” as Patti Shore put it. At the very least, the agency should be dissatisfied with a policy that depends on almost no science and very little data, except the numbers that show the Georgia State Patrol kills many more people with the PIT maneuver than other agencies do.

Causation was often discussed in the Sharp and Calhoun cases. What caused the cars to leave the road? What caused the young adults to run from the police? In the closing argument for Calhoun’s prosecution, Assistant District Attorney Brian Atkinson said, “If Thanquarius Calhoun had not committed that felonious act, Marion Shore would be alive today; therefore, Thanquarius Calhoun caused her death. Causation is as simple as that.”

Calhoun’s lawyer retorted, in his closing argument, that Marion Shore “is part of the public that this law enforcement was supposed to protect and serve. They did not do that. Was there another option other than that PIT maneuver? I don’t know. I don’t know if there was another option. Maybe. Maybe law enforcement should have backed off and just let that vehicle go. At some point they may have slowed down. But we know one thing, Marion Shore is dead because of Trooper Saddler.”

When I spoke to Calhoun’s mother, Rosie, in her home in McDonough, she offered an alternative solution, one that was pure fantasy but pointed toward a gentler idea of law enforcement more in line with that of policy expert Geoffrey Alpert, who believes pursuits should not occur unless a violent crime has been committed; the dangers do not outweigh the benefits. Rosie said she wished the police could have just put her in front of her son as he sped down the road, to show him that she was there waiting on the other end. Instead of police barricades and flashing lights, he would have seen Rosie, his mama. “And knowing my child,” she told me, “he would have slowed down.”

In a letter sent from Autry State Prison, Calhoun, who is now 24, told me that when he was fleeing from the cops that day, he was doing everything he could to avoid crashing: “In my eyes, I was driving good and trying not to wreck. Just trying to get us back home safe and not go to jail.” He doesn’t think the police should be able to perform a PIT at such high speeds for a speeding violation. “It’s too dangerous even for the officer,” he wrote. “They can get hurt behind it as well.”

In his letter, Calhoun said he hasn’t been the same mentally or physically since the PIT maneuver. He’s off balance when he walks, his reflexes are slower, and he dreams about Marion and the chase. He regrets running from the cops that day and regrets putting innocent people, including the police, in harm’s way. He regrets making that decision because now he’s away from his little girl, his mother, and everyone he loves, including his friend Marion Shore. He wishes he could go back and pull over that afternoon, but he doesn’t believe he deserves a life sentence for her death — the same sentence a serial murderer might receive in many states — or that he was the only one at fault. “I almost died the day of that crash, and then they gone try to take my life away again,” he wrote. “How much more they gone keep hurting me.”


Donald Ewen Cameron (1901-1967) was a ScottishAmericanpsychiatrist. Born in Bridge of Allan, he graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1924.

Cameron lived and worked in Albany, New York, and was involved in experiments in Canada for Project MKULTRA, a United States based CIA-directed mind control program which eventually led to the publication of the KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation manual Cameron was the author of the psychic driving concept which the CIA found particularly interesting. In it he described his theory on correcting madness, which consisted of erasing existing memories and rebuilding the psyche completely. After being recruited by the CIA, he commuted to Montreal every week to work at the Allan Memorial Institute of the McGill University, and was paid $69,000 from 1957 to 1964 to carry out MKULTRA experiments there. The CIA tasked him with  the deadly experiments to carry out, as they would be tried on non-US citizens. However, documents released in 1977 revealed that thousands of unwitting, as well as voluntary subjects, were tested on during that time period. These included United States citizens.

In addition to LSD and PCP, Cameron also experimented with various paralytic drugs, as well as electroconvulsive therapy at 30 to 40 times the normal power. His “driving” experiments consisted of putting subjects into drug-induced coma for months on end (up to three in one case) while playing tape loops of noise or simple repetitive statements. His experiments were typically carried out on patients who had entered the institute for minor problems such as anxiety disorders and post-partum depression, many of whom suffered permanently from his actions. His work in this field was inspired and paralleled by the British psychiatrist Dr William Sargant who carried out virtually identical experiments at St Thomas’ Hospital, London and Belmont Hospital, Surrey, also without his patients’ consent.



2Sidney Gottlieb (August 3, 1918 – March 7, 1999) was a Americanmilitary psychiatrist and chemist probably best-known for his involvement with the Central Intelligence Agency‘s mind control program MKULTRA.

Sidney was born in the Bronx under the name Joseph Scheider. He received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. A stutterer from childhood, Gottlieb got a master’s degree in speech therapy. He also had a club foot, but this did not stop him from practicing folk dancing, a lifelong passion.

In 1951, Sidney Gottlieb joined the Central Intelligence Agency. As a poison expert, he headed the chemical division of the Technical Services Staff (TSS). Sidney became known as the “Black Sorcerer” and the “Dirty Trickster.” He supervised preparations of lethal poisons and experiments in mind control. Gottleib later lived like a hermit in a cottage where he raised goats. He was common,y known at the Goat Boy inside the CIA and viewed as totally mad. Both Cameron and Gottlieb are typical of the members of the lunatic frings that staffed much of the CIA, and still does to this day.


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