A Tangled Webb: Did the FBI leave a Cop-Killer on the Street?

A Miscarriage of Justice

December 4, 2020, marks the 40th anniversary of the murder of Saxonburg, Pennsylvania Police Chief Gregory Adams. Shortly after the Chief’s brutal murder, police identified Donald Eugene Webb, a jewel thief and bank robber with ties to the local Patriarca Crime family, as a suspect.

Saxonburg, PA Police Chief Gregory Adams

At the crime scene, police found evidence linking Webb and his wife, Lillian, to the murder; a bloody driver’s license in the name of Albert Portas, Lillian’s long-dead first husband. They found other evidence suggesting Webb suffered severe injuries in the struggle.

Several days after the murder, police found Webb’s rental car, used during the crime, abandoned at the old Howard Johnson’s in Warwick. In the car, investigators found blood matching Webb’s type. But no one ever arrested or charged Webb.

According to the FBI, they couldn’t find him.

Despite having this evidence, the FBI did little to catch Webb. They set up a surveillance camera on the house—at first, on the wrong place—to watch Lillian. But other than that, did little else to suggest they were doing everything they could to catch a cop-killer.

Webb made it to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list (later joined by Whitey Bulger), where he remained for twenty-five years. Yet despite this high-profile designation as a fugitive, he wasn’t out of the country, or even out of New England. He was hiding in his own home, in Massachusetts, aided by his wife, using a hidden room in the basement. It was one of two locations where Webb and his wife lived while he was a fugitive.

Stanley Webb, a former New Bedford Police officer and Webb’s stepson, co-owned one house with his mother. He is now under indictment in Massachusetts on an unrelated 2018 gambling case linked to Organized Crime.

Other than the early attempts to gain Lillian’s cooperation—which failed—the FBI never tried to obtain a search warrant for Webb. The first time the FBI executed a search warrant at Webb’s home was in 2016, thirty-six years after the murder. They used much of the same information available to them decades earlier to justify the search.

The search yielded little results other than a hidden room used by Webb.

In 2017, investigators from the Massachusetts and Pennsylvania State Police, relying partly on information in the FBI search affidavit about the secret room and the Bureau’s contact with Lillian in 2016, executed a search warrant. They found Donald Eugene Webb, or at least his remains. Lillian Webb finally admitted her husband died in 1999 after suffering several strokes. She claimed she buried him, by herself, in the backyard when she was sixty-two years old. She then led investigators to the grave.

The search uncovered more than just Webb’s remains. Investigators also found more evidence related to the hidden room he used to hide out for almost nineteen years—the facts of this miscarriage of justice shock the conscience.

It took the FBI thirty-six years to get a search warrant to search a location intimately connected to Webb.  It took thirty-seven years and the assistance of two State Police agencies to do what they should have done all those years ago.

The FBI told Chief Adams’s family they were doing everything in their power to catch his killer. It would seem they put his name on the most wanted list and forgot about it.

Then hoped everyone else would.

A strikingly familiar story about the FBI back in the 1970s and 1980s, echoing the saga of Whitey Bulger. For almost nineteen years after the murder, Donald Eugene Webb was alive and living in Dartmouth, MA. Yet the FBI never looked for him in the most likely place. They were grossly inept in ignoring the evidence, or they intentionally left a cop-killer on the street for reasons known only to them.

Why is it known only to them? Because the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant is sealed in a case over forty years old where the only known suspect is dead. The only indication of the existence of the search warrant is the reference to it in the affidavit used by the State Police in their search warrant.

It gives one pause.

But this is not the end of the story. In 2017, Chief Adams’s widow, now remarried, sued Lillian Webb and her son, Stanley, for the Police Chief’s wrongful death.

This case, given the revelations out of the Boston FBI office handling of Whitey Bulger, raises questions about why it took the FBI all those years to find a cop-killer. After the fatal struggle with Adams, Webb spent time in a hospital under an assumed name. Despite the evidence of Webb’s injuries, which common sense dictates would spark an inquiry at hospitals in New England—Webb’s home turf—investigators never found him.

Or they never looked.

Despite many reports of Webb being seen in New England, it took almost thirty-seven years for them to focus on Webb’s wife and son. After finding the remains, the FBI never filed charges of harboring a fugitive. Instead, the FBI sought immunity for Lillian’s cooperation, thus avoiding messy complications of disclosing the content of their investigation in discovery.

Was this another case of the FBI turning a blind eye to criminal activity in their single-minded pursuit of Organized Crime? Did the FBI let a cop-killer walk free in exchange for information on the mob?

Had you asked me these questions in 1980 when, as a young police officer on the East Providence Police Department, I learned of the cop-killer’s connection to Rhode Island, I would have thought you insane.

But now, knowing what transpired with the FBI and Bulger, it screams for the truth to come out.

Justice delayed is justice denied. Justice derailed by an agency such as the FBI is an injustice for which we should all demand a full accounting.

Time to untangle the troubling story of Donald Eugene Webb.

Captain (Ret.) Joe Broadmeadow East Providence Police Department Lieutenant (Ret.) Tom Denniston Rhode Island State Police

Please share this and let the Chief’s family know we will never forget or rest until the truth comes out.

We Are a Country of Laws not Allegations

We are a country of law—not opinions, not perceptions, not beliefs, not accusations, but law. And it is under the law that this country survives.

No person, no institution, no office is above the law, nor do they get to determine of their own volition how the law may be applied. Congress enacts laws, the Executive branch enforces the laws, and the Judiciary interprets the law. Each of these elements must operate under the law.

No one individual can circumvent that for any purpose. We do not derail the peaceful transfer of power solely on the word of one man, not even if that man is a sitting President.

Theodore Boutrous: A First Amendment Blind Spot - WSJ

President Trump is on the brink of defying the people’s will by taking the law into his own hands. His purpose or rationalization is meaningless. His intent is unworthy of consideration. It is his actions that cause great concern.

He would have us abandon a two hundred and thirty year tradition of the peaceful transfer of power based on an allegation unsupported by any evidence, let alone a finding in a court of law.

By delaying the transition of power, he is violating the spirit of the law and the long history of this process. Once the individual states certify the vote, and the Electoral college casts the ballots giving Mr. Biden the total to become the next President, the law is clear. Mr. Trump’s continued refusal to abide by the spirit of the law will cross the line from obstinance to a criminal act .

I would remind those who support him that, not that long ago, many people and sitting members of Congress believed Mr. Trump guilty of impeachable offenses.

But the law determined he was not guilty, because the evidence did not support it. How one felt or what one thought about the decision doesn’t matter, it was made within the framework of the law. The same law we live by and need support.

Opinions, no matter how sincerely held, are meaningless under the law. Whether or not you supported the decision against impeachment is pointless. Whether you believe it was strictly political maneuvering that started the process and similar political maneuvering that ended it is meaningless.

The only thing that matters is the finding under the law.

Allegations of voter fraud are meaningless until a court decides under the law affirming such crimes. Until then, the presumption of any who may face charges is that they are innocent.

Thus, under our law, the integrity of the system remains trustworthy.

For Mr. Trump to recklessly and unlawfully obstruct the transition of power after the vote is certified because he “believes” there was widespread voter fraud is tantamount to a crime against the United States. A criminal act for which he, and anyone who actively takes part in this obstruction of the transition of power, should face charges.

Under our system, should this alleged widespread voter fraud be proven in court, Congress has remedies to address the issue. Until then, it is incumbent on all duly elected officials to support the peaceful transfer of power and to stand firm against a President seeking to subvert the system for his own benefit.

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Presidential Treason: Nixon and the War in Vietnam

When one considers the risk/benefit of a free press and becomes concerned that a fully unrestricted press poses a danger to the safety and security of the country, I would suggest reading this article about the length some will go to get elected, and how a free press is critical to protecting America’s integrity.

When a Candidate Conspired With a Foreign Power to Win An Election

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/06/nixon-vietnam-candidate-conspired-with-foreign-power-win-election-215461

During the run-up to the 1968 election, Richard Nixon, in a foreshadowing of Watergate, did something in secret that is so horrendous as to defy credulity.

In what became known as the Chennault Affair—“named for Anna Chennault, the Republican doyenne and fundraiser who became Nixon’s back channel to the South Vietnamese government and lingered as a diplomatic and political whodunit for decades afterward.” (taken from the above article)—Nixon used this surrogate to persuade the South Vietnamese to delay reaching any agreement on ending the war on the promise that Nixon, if elected, would give them better terms.

This matter did not become public knowledge until 2007 with the release of previously restricted documents in Nixon’s Presidential Library.

Perhaps, if someone had the integrity and sense of honor to leak this information to the press, a quicker, less costly end to the war might have been achieved.

By 1967, the war had taken more than 20,000 American lives, wounded hundreds of thousands, and torn American society apart. But for the sake of winning an election—by preventing Johnson’s feverish efforts to negotiate an end to the war and extract American troops giving the Democrats a boost in their election prospects—Nixon sabotaged the negotiations.

The end result?

Six more years of war. More than 38000 additional combat deaths and hundred of thousands more wounded. American lives shattered, POWs languishing for five more years, and a country torn apart by anti-war violence.

This same President willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of an election victory would further sully the office with the Watergate scandal in securing another election.

Another episode which may have never come to light but for the sake of a deputy director of the FBI, a man of integrity known as Deep Throat, some enterprising reporters, and the Washington Post, a newspaper willing to fulfill its obligation as a free and independent press.

Sadly, at the cost of America’s most precious resource, the men and women willing to serve their country, this other Nixon episode never saw the light of day in time to do anything. Perhaps now it can serve as a reminder of the need to protect a free press.

Like the Pentagon Papers published by the New York Times detailing the American military consensus that the Vietnam war was unwinnable, which turned even more against the war by unveiling the truth, perhaps an exposé of Nixon’s treasonous behavior by an enterprising publisher might have saved thousands of American lives.

It is those drawn to the power of the Presidency that need bear the most scrutiny of a free press. Secrets sometimes save lives, more often they needlessly waste them.

That alone is a strong enough reason to ensure the preservation and sanctity of a free press.

And if you haven’t yet….GO VOTE!

Vote 2020 | Auburn Examiner
Your Right Your Duty Your Country

EVERY VOTE MATTERS

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An Inviolate Freedom of the Press: If We Can Keep It

Original intent is an issue often argued in matters regarding the Constitution. Usually it is in regards to the Second Amendment. But today we face a more serious challenge.

One that strikes at the very heart of our freedom; Governmental intrusion on Freedom of the Press and misunderstanding the faith of the founding fathers in the ability and obligation of the public to be trusted with the power of a free press.

What was their intent with Freedom of the Press and how does it apply in the world of instant, continuous news cycle and social media networks? Therein lies the brilliance of their genius, it still applies without any modification or caution.

One of the most powerful forces propelling the success of our form of capitalism is the free market. If there is a need, someone will fill it. When Congress, under the pretext of seeking fairness and impartiality in the press, deigns to intervene in what a media outlet publishes or withholds, it should give us all pause.

Congress often finds ways to intervene in matters best left to individual choices and when they do the results are almost always disastrous. In their attempt at forcing the hand of sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others on what they should publish or restrict, they’re are setting the groundwork for Big Brother control of the press and social media.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et.al., are not government agencies. They can, and should, be able to make their own determination on what they allow or deny on their sites. Let the market decide if it will support such policies, not the partisan, agenda-driven politics of ambitious members of Congress,

I wonder if Congress would be holding hearing on forcing social media to post recipes for bombs and manifestos calling for their use on the Capitol? Likewise, they have no business making any determination or inquiries absent clear violations of the law. And even then it is a matter for the FBI or local authorities.

That some media outlets lean one way or the other is irrelevant. Nor should the choices of what to publish or what to eliminate, except in the most extreme of circumstances, ever be the concern of the Government.

I think the founding fathers were clear in their intent that government has no place in regulating the press. We as a people value more an unrestricted press than any perceived harm such freedom may pose. Secrets are never more important than what they may seek to protect, no matter how well intentioned.

George Washington Quote on Freedom of Speech Print

That one social media site chooses, for whatever reason, to restrict certain items from their site in no way prevents some other site from filling that need. Such questions are best left to the market demand.

But it does raise issues of credibility, verification of material, and trustworthiness of sources. In the matter of the Hunter Biden laptop, a prudent publisher might rightfully be concerned with spreading unverified allegations. And such decisions should be left to the publisher themselves and the demand of the market. Another site might see an obligation to present such material and let those who see it decide.

In either case, the government should have no say.

Once the government starts to determine what you must publish, it is a short jump to their telling you what you cannot publish. And therein lies great danger.

And to those who fail to see the danger in any government interference with freedom of the press, history offers a valuable lesson. Here’s a most applicable warning from someone who understood well the need to eliminate such freedom and went on to do so;

“It is the press, above all, which wages a positively fanatical and slanderous struggle, tearing down everything which can be regarded as a support of national independence, cultural elevation, and the economic independence of the nation.”
― Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

But this freedom of the press, like the other rights guaranteed by the Constitution, comes with responsibilities. Just like one cannot yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater, one must educate oneself to recognize the elements of truth or the veil of lies often hidden within published material.

Let’s take, for example, satire. That someone is so ignorant or blind as to fail to recognize satire does not render the publication of such material unlawful, nor should it trigger governmental intrusion.

Jonathan Swift, in his A Modest Proposal, suggested using the children of the poor as a source of food for the wealthy and income for the destitute as a satirical criticism of the wretched state of many of his fellow Irishman. Just because some might fail to see the satire doesn’t justify government prohibiting it’s publication. Particularly when the criticism was directed at the government.

The founding fathers put absolute faith in the ability of the American people to recognize the truth from the lies. They believed literate Americans, who were almost exclusively white and male, could be trusted.

We’ve become more inclusive, a good thing, and better educated, also a good thing, but I wonder if we would instill the same confidence in the founding fathers. It would seem many, if not most, of our fellow Americans are blinded by confirmation bias, incapable of seeking a balanced perspective.

And that may well be our demise.

Once the government starts to determine what you must publish, it is a short jump to their telling you what you cannot publish. And therein lies great danger.

Author

The intent of the founding fathers cannot be expressed better than in their own words…

I am… for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the Constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.

Thomas Jefferson

Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

James Madison

As unbalanced parties of every description can never tolerate a free inquiry of any kind, when employed against themselves, the license, and even the most temperate freedom of the press, soon excite resentment and revenge.

John Adams

The freedom of the press should be inviolate.

John Quincy Adams

Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.

Thomas Jefferson

This last quote by Jefferson is the most insightful, and illustrative, of all. When the founding fathers spoke of freedom of the press they were addressing its necessity to Americans who could understand, evaluate, and measure the words they read, and the importance of making sure all had the capabilities to do so.

While Jefferson, and many others of his generation, would have denied such literacy to blacks, both slave and free, and women, I believe, were they among us today, they would champion literacy for all. Jefferson and the others trusted the public to be deliberate in their reading and to separate the sensational and provocative falsehoods from the truth.

This required some level of education, some level beyond mere literacy, rising to the level of reason and intelligence. Such understanding arises only when one is able and willing to look at issues from all perspectives.

The courts have also recognized the primacy of a free and unfettered press.

Without a free press there can be no free society. That is axiomatic. However, freedom of the press is not an end in itself but a means to the end of a free society. The scope and nature of the constitutional guarantee of the freedom of the press are to be viewed and applied in that light.

Felix Frankfurter

Many distinguished lawyers also argue the necessity for protecting such freedoms from all attempts to silence or limit them.

We don’t have an Official Secrets Act in the United States, as other countries do. Under the First Amendment, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of association are more important than protecting secrets.

Alan Dershowitz

With this powerful history of support for a free and unencumbered press comes our responsibility to defend such freedom.

We should never accept, carte blanche, assertions in print, online, or in any other media format simply because they concord with our opinions or beliefs. It is incumbent on us all to recognize it is the diversity of our opinions and perspectives that make us great and to endeavor to understand opposing positions.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”

Evelyn Beatrice Hall in The Friends of Voltaire (often misattributed to Voltaire himself)

We should never sit idly by while Congress, for questionable partisan motivations, moves in any way, shape, or form to limit the media or insist on any control over the content thereof.

No one side has all the right answers and the only way to insure all perspectives are expressed is through a free press protected from any governmental intrusion.

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Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

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Leaves That Are Green

This time of the year, when even on a warm sunny day the first hint of winter chill swirls in the air, the leaves draw our attention with their kaleidoscope of colors.

I find it amusing how we notice leaves at just two moments in their life cycle; when they first emerge as a harbinger of Spring and when they twirl in the windy eddies of the Fall. Their yellows and reds and multi-colored spectrum are a message from nature, if we’ve a mind to listen.

We are all like leaves, with our own shapes, sizes, and colors. An oak tree in New England may differ slightly from an oak tree in southern California, but it is still an oak and still a tree. Often we focus on the differences rather than that which makes us all human.

Colors of Life

One might use leaves as a simile for what it is to be human. Through the unveiling of hidden colors in Fall, nature reveals the infinite variety of hues of humanity that are contained in all of us.

And so it is with people. We see the only differences and forget the commonality of humanity. This symmetry of leaves, and the symmetry within all humans, is not the fearful one of Blake’s The Tyger.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

The Tyger, William Blake

Yet, it is from the same hand of nature, wondrous and magical, that paints with an imagination far beyond that of us mere mortals. Though we are surrounded by leaves all summer, except for the brief moment at the dawn of Spring, we hardly take notice.

Then, as if to draw our attention to the fragility of life and to remind us of the infinite variety within it, the leaves change. The colors emerge, they bring a moment of wonder to our eyes, the colors burst forth, then, as Paul Simon wrote,

…And the leaves that are green turn to brown
And they whither with the wind
And they crumble in your hand

Leaves That Are Green, by Paul Simon

Those swirling leaves that we often curse as we rake them, scrape them from our shoes, and sweep them from our floors are trying to tell us something. Life is not permanent; within every plain green leaf—and within every human being—lies the infinite colors of life if we take a moment to look for it before it is too late.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

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An Apology Long Overdue

I have this memory of a Cumberland High School English class in 1972 where the teacher—whose name I do not recall, but was likely just a few years older than the students— in an effort to be “cool,” asked about our thoughts on the lyrics to the song Thick as a Brick performed by Jethro Tull and written by Ian Anderson.

Instead of forcing us to embrace just the classics of literature, she tried to open our eyes with a more contemporary approach.

I recall only one moment, but it has stuck with me all these years. When asked what I thought about the line, “your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick,” my answer was quick and without the least bit of thoughtfulness. 

I said, “it rhymes and fits the music.”

I can still see the disappointment in her eyes. To this day, I don’t know if the disappointment was with me and my callous response or with herself for not being able to reach us on our level..

Still, it has bothered me since.

I now realize many of the songs I grew up listening to carry more than pleasurable rhythms; they contain a wisdom that escaped me at the moment, all to my diminution. Hindsight being crystal clear, I’d like to apologize to that teacher. Better late than never.

Back then, I was often a shining example of “thick as a brick.”

Really don’t mind if you sit this one out.
My words but a whisper – your deafness a SHOUT.
I may make you feel but I can’t make you think.
Your sperm’s in the gutter – your love’s in the sink.
So you ride yourselves over the fields and
you make all your animal deals and
your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.
And the sand-castle virtues are all swept away in
the tidal destruction
the moral melee.
The elastic retreat rings the close of play as the last wave uncovers
the newfangled way.
But your new shoes are worn at the heels and
your suntan does rapidly peel and
your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.

Thick as a Brick by Ian Anderson

Ian Anderson’s brilliant writing contained more gems that may have escaped me at the moment, but have since revealed themselves. Over the years, I have struggled with the simplistic, if well-intentioned, indoctrination in the Catholic Faith of my youth.  As I expand my appreciation for the almost infinite varieties of religious tenets, I’ve also come to see how they are more similar than different. This similarity precludes any of them from exclusivity with the truth.

The demands of a god for devotion and worship. The claims of physics-defying miracles occurring always absent any independent method of verification except eyewitnesses, the least reliable form of evidence. The almost exclusive male dominance of the hierarchy. The gender-specific rules for what to wear, how to worship, and who can lead a congregation.

Once again, Anderson’s writing offers some answers. In the lyrics of Wind-Up, Anderson wrote,

I don’t believe you:
You had the whole damn thing all wrong
He’s not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays
Well, you can excommunicate me
On my way to Sunday school
And have all the bishops harmonize these lines
How’d you dare tell me
That I’m my Father’s son
When that was just an accident of birth
I’d rather look around me
Compose a better song
‘Cause that’s the honest measure of my worth

Wind-Up by Ian Anderson

While most people are sincere in embracing their religion, even if they are somewhat less than consistent in its practice, they seem to miss the point that their faith was indeed “an accident of birth.” If that were not the case, we would offer our children an opportunity to learn about all religions and let them, “Compose a better song, ‘Cause that’s the honest measure of my worth.”

But that’s not what we do. Some have compared religion to a virus. One is exposed and develops the illness, then spreads it to others in proximity.  Some find this comparison offensive because they see malicious intent.  But nothing could be further from the truth. We have all unintentionally infected others with germs, not through intentional acts but through regular daily interaction.

No different than how religions are spread. While some convert from one religion to another, that happens when they are inoculated from the feverish philosophy of one religion by the vaccine of another.

Religion has its place in humanity. But when one religion is pitted against another, or integrated into government’s secular operation, the potential for religious orchestrated pogroms rises.

In this country, many would claim we are a Judeo-Christian based society with no room for Islam, Buddhism, or any other “foreign” religion. Some would argue we don’t need to include the Judeo part because Christianity is the one true faith.  The Catholic faith doctrine is more specific; if you are not baptized, confirmed, and fully committed to Catholicism, you cannot enter heaven.

This seems a bit presumptuous in light of the 4000-plus religions that have claimed to be the only truth at one time or another.

Anderson wrote it, and that teacher put it out there for me to see all those years ago. I just chose to close my mind to the possibilities—something I see in those who refuse to accept other religions’ equal validity.

All those years ago and the disappointment on that teacher’s face still lurks in my memory. I have no idea if she is even still around. But I wanted her to know the seed she planted finally germinated and broke through the brick of my ignorance.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

A Crisis of Character: America at it's best, and worst

When the situation first developed with my daughter and son-in-law stranded in Morocco, and I sought to make people aware of their situation through social media, my reaction to the sophomoric, churlish, and idiotic comments about their plight, and that of thousands of other Americans, was one of rage.

Angry, intense, unmitigated rage.

Anger which, if allowed to express itself, results in prison terms. They directed these comments at my daughter and son-in-law and many other Americans. And they came from “my fellow Americans.”

To say it incensed me is an understatement.

Before I took to the usual recourse of writing about these things, I knew I needed to let the rage subside. I wanted to be sure everything I wrote came from my rational and reasoned side and that it was accurate and sincere.

I am now at peace with the rage. Here are my thoughts on this situation.

This country contains a significant number—not a majority, yet perhaps just enough to populate a small town—of moronic, self-centered, intellectually compromised nitwits. This small town of Moronville would contain enough people to give every other village, town, or city an abundance of idiots and still have leftovers.

Where do I begin?

When I contacted the local media to publicize the situation facing American citizens stranded overseas, I expected some negativity. I knew there would be a few dimwits, ensconced in their zealous xenophobic ignorance, who’d offer something less than charitable suggestions or ignorance-laden nonsense.

Yet I did not understand how many of our fellow Americans have absolutely no consideration or empathy for others.

I won’t dignify the keyboard courageous by repeating the comments, but they took great pride in parading their obliviousness. Their lack of fundamental knowledge about contagion, or even basic understanding that readmitting stranded Americans would have ZERO effect on the spread of the virus in the US, is frightening.

We are well beyond that.

Yet the absolute absence of any empathy, from those who I’m sure proudly claim their Judeo-Christian heritage, is astounding.

“What Would Jesus Do?” might be a bumper sticker on their car, but I dare say it was there when they bought it and no one has read or explained it to them.

Now here is the real kicker. While there were many comments wishing my daughter and son-in-law a speedy and safe return, they were in the minority. Yet one stuck out of the cacophony of overwhelming ignorance. A person who doesn’t know my daughter, and who doesn’t know me, offered to help.

This person was a Moroccan living here in Rhode Island. Surrounded by so many Americans who wrap themselves in the flag, foaming at the mouth about Making America Great Again, none offered any help.

But this Moroccan did.

This one exception showed what being a humane and caring member of the human race is all about. Think about that. Let that soak in for a moment. Americans offered criticism and “too bad, it’s on you for going there,” while a Moroccan offered to help by putting my daughter in touch with their family in Morocco.

Americans offered callous criticism and snide remarks, a Moroccan offered shelter from the storm.

That’s one reason why we travel. One of the many reasons we encouraged our daughter to travel, One of the reasons we encouraged her to go to countries like Morocco. To see the world beyond the borders of this country; to see there are good people all over this planet.

Now there is a second, and perhaps more troubling, aspect to this story.

The failure of the US State Department and the Embassy to offer even the slightest bit of help is a symptom of the incompetence of this administration.

It began long before the current crisis with the loss of many career State Department employees. In the face of the President’s policy ignorance, lack of Foreign relations skills, and callous disregard of advice from those with enormous experience, we lost decades of knowledge and expertise with the exodus. The President then replaced them with sycophants, wealthy campaign contributors, and co-conspirators.

Here’s a frightening example of how ill-considered appointments put Americans at risk.

Ambassadorship are often offered to patrons of a candidate. They are the plum positions rewarded for contributions and political support. Yet any competent administration should realize that world situations are fluid, fast moving, and prone to develop in the most unlikely circumstances.

Like a Pandemic.

Having competent people on the ground, even in countries such as Morocco with its relative stability, is critical. Political contributions are not a qualification, it’s a down payment or a bribe.

Even with the reality of politics, competence should enter the equation.

The American Ambassador to Morocco, David Fischer, is a Trump appointee. His previous experience was managing a collection of auto dealerships. There’s a comforting thought. The man on the ground taking care of our fellow American citizens has vast experience financing auto purchases and zero experience in diplomacy or emergency preparedness.

We’ve trusted a diplomatic mission to someone who amounts to a step above a used car salesman. I know that’s harsh, but other than politically supporting Mr. Trump, the man has zero qualifications. (https://ma.usembassy.gov/our-relationship/our-ambassador/)

The consensus among those on the scene, my daughter among them, is the Embassy has been useless. Local authorities say there’s been no communication from the Embassy and they advised my daughter and the others they were on their own.

The French, while understandably allowing their citizens to travel first, have been less than cordial with the Americans. They are allowing Americans on the Air France flights after taking any French citizens, but they are not happy about it and wonder why the American government has done nothing.

In contrast, the British Ambassador, Thomas Reilly, has received high marks for coordinating the return of British citizens. (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/travel/coronavirus-americans-stranded.html?fbclid=IwAR3qX0uAJJ-FbVGHzoXrOHAIsG3W7PLkzeW1M5EthzAeAvmoSL1coip51e0)

Absent any presence of American Government authorities at the airport, American citizens are at risk. And this is happening all over the world.

To their credit, staff in the offices of Senators Reed and Whitehouse have remained in touch, made efforts to get information from the Embassy, and move the government to deal with the issue. For that I am grateful, but they can only do so much from here.

The President does not bear the responsibility for this pandemic. He does not bear the responsibility for the global financial collapse. But he bears the responsibility for the incompetence and lack of planning in his administration’s response.

And if there is any doubt about the sinister nature of this administration and those who support it, there’s this gem. Senator Richard Burr- R-NC, a member of the Intelligence Committee receiving classified briefings about COVID-19 before the widespread pandemic, dumped stock and warned a group of well-connected constituents to prepare for the financial meltdown with the spread of the Corona Virus.

No doubt there will be more such noble actions brought to light by that evil enemy of the people, the media and the First Amendment. And I have no doubt there will be Democrats among them. (https://www.npr.org/2020/03/19/818192535/burr-recording-sparks-questions-about-private-comments-on-covid-19)

Something we need remember come November.

Can we afford such incompetence in the face of a such challenges? Because there will be more. Much as many would like, we cannot isolate ourselves from the rest of the world, nor should we. The very idea underscores the idiocy of many Americans.

I hope this does not dissuade my daughter from the joy and experience of travel. I hope she can remember traveling was not the issue, nor the pandemic, it was being abandoned by her own government, leaving her to her own devices, that was the biggest disaster.

And I hope she keeps in mind how the people in Morocco took care of them as best they good, and the kindness of the person from Morocco here in Rhode Island, to remind her there are good people all over the world.

*Author’s Note: My daughter and son-in-law are now on a flight to JFK having made their way out of Morocco on their own with little communication from the Embassy.

That, they will remember, and I will remember these things as well.

A Rising Tide

Hope for America

The hope of America lies not in her great history or in the resiliency of her people, but in the ability of our system of government to survive regardless of the level of quality in our leadership. The founding fathers understood this more than anything else; if you rely on just the good nature of most people you will leave a way for those with evil intent to thrive.

America is like a pristine beach; warmed by the sun with a gentle surf changing the shore in subtle but continuous ways.  Men such as Mr. Trump come along and build intricate sand castles that mesmerize those who cannot see their vulnerability.  They become enamored of the spectacle, ignoring the fundamental flaw in the foundation.

When the storm arrives, as it will, such structures last but a moment in the face of the onrushing waves. Yet the shore, with just the millions of grains of sand bound by a common purpose, not only survives but over time erases the remains of the turbulence.

We are now facing the storm of rising mistrust in America by the rest of the world. By the disdain of former allies abandoned by ill-considered policies based on a self-aggrandizing charlatan and his sycophantic minions. By opposing governments feeding the ego of the President to interfere in our elections with his consent. By the constancy of American resolve to bear any burden abandoned in the face of challenges we once welcomed.

The sand castle that is the Trump administration will not withstand the coming storm, a storm of outrage and disgust by the American people who see their country roiled in the minefields of racism, injustice, virtual foreign invasion, and nationalism.  The storm will sweep away the sand castle and the shores of America will bask in the sun of a powerful but considerate, wealthy but generous, and vigilant yet hopeful nation once again.

An Enemy of the People

A recent piece I wrote called The Price of War (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2020/01/13/the-price-of-war/) drew some interesting comments and criticisms; the responses were markedly disparate.

The majority agreed with the sentiment of the article but had serious doubts we will ever eliminate war as human condition.

Many of the concerns were sincere yet tainted by resignation to something I believe within our power to change.

There was a significant number who focused on one or two negative comments directed at the President. In a nutshell, I find him ill-suited for dealing with complex geopolitics issues. His usual act is saber rattling the power of our military. Creative and nuanced solutions elude him. He plays to some of his supporters like a character on WWF, not the President occupying the Oval Office. Latching on to these criticisms, they tagged me as a progressive leftist liberal.

Leftist I am not, but I am guilty of the other charge. No one has yet explained the negative value of being progressive or liberal. It seems the founding fathers of this country were very progressive and liberal about their continued allegiance to the King. British loyalists considered them terrorists and an enemy of the crown.

However, some went full bore, wishing me an unhappy, painful, and imminent demise. I am an enemy of the people. In light of such threatening behavior, I must poke the dragon once more.

I will dispense with the history aspect I so painstakingly wrote, play the role of “advocatus diaboli,” and argue for a more aggressive response to the perceived threats to this country. Since we will never, in the eyes of many, eliminate war, let us prosecute it with vigor and resolve.

Do unto others before they do unto you.

Perhaps my new found militancy will improve my reputation and earn me an upgrade me to plain liberal or, god willing, a conservative.

But I must set the stage with a small bit of history. Growing up a child of the sixties, I knew the godless Russians and the Chinese hated us. They wanted to either kill us or enslave us all. I knew this despite having never actually met a “Chinamen” or a “Ruskie.”

Yet all the adults seemed to know and accept this as fact, which is why many supported spending much of their tax money on building nuclear weapons. Enough to kill every human six or seven times over.

Of course, what they might have thought was to kill all of “those” people twelve or fourteen times over and keep us god-fearing Americans alive to repopulate the world.

Better dead than red, I always say.

What I don’t understand is, if the Russians and Chinese hated us, and for a time we had the advantage in nuclear weapons, why didn’t we strike then and be done with it?

As Madeline Albright, Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, once said, “Why have all these nuclear weapons if we can’t use them?”

Perhaps she has a point.

Instead, we waited and hoped the Russians and Chinese would see the fallacy in Mutually Assured Destruction.

They have so far. But the world has changed. Can we afford to take the same chance?

Now it is the Muslims who hate us. And we do not want them to get nuclear weapons, so maybe we should not risk it again. Give the command. Turn the launch keys. Send them to their god, It might be a smarter choice.

One more historical point. Allah, the God of Islam, is the same Abrahamic God of Judeo-Christian tradition but why get hung up on a technicality. As a good Christian Crusader once said, “Kill them all, God will recognize his own.”

Iran is the devil of the moment. The country that hates us the most. It was North Korea for a while, but they’ve dropped into second place. They have a better chance of nuking themselves before they get us. Iran is the “Raison du moment” we are playing chicken with armed conflict. But I do not understand something.

Pakistan has nukes. They harbored Osama bin Laden, the hall of infamy star of Islamic terrorism. They are supposed to be our ally and we could not tell them we were coming to kill Osama. Why haven’t we nuked them?

Saudi Arabia supplied nineteen of the hijackers. If we were keeping score, the Saudis are responsible for more American deaths than that Iranian General we spread all over the tarmac. Once again, an ally in name only. Why haven’t we nuked them?

Since Mr. Trump and his BFF, Mr. Putin, control thousands of nukes, and seem to be engaged in a mutual admiration society, perhaps a return to the alliance we shared in defeating the Nazis is in order with our target the new enemy, Iran.

Oh, wait, Russia backs Iran. Perhaps there’s a reason for Mr. Trump’s confusion with allies and friends like these. There’s that pesky geopolitics again.

I would suggest we approach China, considering our new trade deal, but they may be too busy enjoying their 6.1% economic growth. Why can’t we have that? Maybe we can learn something from them on that front.

Let’s just keep this simple.

Here is my plan.

  1. Recall all American military personnel to the US. Notify all Americans living abroad now might be a good time to visit the homeland. Advise them to sell all their furniture or find a solid storage facility.
  2. End all foreign aid to everybody except other nations based on a Christian tradition
  3. Hold a referendum on exempting the Israelis from this requirement. They are not Christian but, in all likelihood, Jesus was Jewish so that bodes well in their favor.
  4. Ask each nation to support what we do. Make a list of all who agree, add to the target list all who refuse.
  5. Start the countdown.

It makes about as much sense as our current covfefe foreign policy.

Rationality Reemerges with Attorney General Peter Neronha’s Drug Policy

It would seem we have an Attorney General who embraces rationality and realism over politics and rhetoric and I, for one, am pleased.

The drug problem in the United States, and worldwide, is complicated. On the most visible side, you have addicts, deaths from overdoses, hospitalizations, and lost opportunity by convictions for possession.

On the other side, you have the intricate relationship of governments of producing countries with the enormous money generated by the cartels. Drug money funds politics, political candidates, and corruption.

Over the last several decades, the trend in the US was to increase punishment and eliminate rehabilitative services for inmates. There was an apparent shift to warehousing more inmates with no consideration for what happens when released.

Recidivism among drug offenders reached 60-70%. Most offenders released from prison are rearrested within a year. Something is not working. There is another troubling trend buried within the change toward punishment that should concern us all. The shift to private prisons. Logic would dictate that businesses with a vested interest in a steady, or growing, supply of “customers” would have little incentive to reduce crime or incarceration rates.

In 2008, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates issued a memo ordering a reduction in using private prisons by Federal authorities. Just days after Jeff Sessions became US Attorney General, he rescinded the order. Private prison stocks soared as the prison industry resumed its growth. Once again, money and politics trumped rationality. (https://www.cnn.com/2017/08/18/politics/private-prison-department-of-justice/index.html)

AG Neronha’s proposal brings rationality to our drug policy. Recognizing the accepted medical definition of drug addiction as a treatable mental health condition, shifting the focus from punishment to treatment and prevention is sound policy.

While the policy is welcome, it must go further. Reducing the number of minor offenders sent to prison is a good start and removing the stigma of a felony conviction will help reintegrate those with drug issues back into society but treating those with mental illnesses, both inside prisons and in society, is also a pressing problem. (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/criminals-need-mental-health-care/)

With the trend toward punishment, they incarcerated those with mental illnesses at an even faster rate than the general population. Until we recognize the revolving door of the mentally ill sent to prisons lacking any mental health services, released after they complete their sentence, and rearrested because of lack of mental health services nothing will change.

AG Neronha wisely recognized the Criminal Justice system in Rhode Island needed a change. He is in good company with other states who have reduced recidivism through “Second chance” type programs, increased treatment opportunities, and punishment tempered by a goal of reintegration into society. (https://csgjusticecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Reducing-Recidivism_State-Deliver-Results_2017.pdf)

Some would argue that such policies will encourage drug use, will increase the number of addicts because it reduces the preventive effect of punishment, will be only a progressive “feel good” effort with little to no benefit.

In the 1980s, Congress passed some of the most Draconian criminal sanctions to deal with the then rising scourge of crack cocaine. Possession of relatively small amounts resulted in life sentences. Yet the effect on the street was minimal, and the adverse impact on the minority population was devastating.

The numbers do not lie. We lead the world in prison population, and the numbers are growing. Whatever we have done to this point, it is not working. (http://www.prisonstudies.org/highest-to-lowest/prison-population-total?field_region_taxonomy_tid=All)

We can do better than that, and Mr. Neronha’s proposal is a tremendous step in the right direction.