Four Months Ago Attorney General Bill Barr Called BOP Staff Shortages that Led to Whitey Bulger Murder “a SNAFU”

At an Appropriations hearing in April, Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito premised a question about cuts to Bureau of Prison staffing budgets by reminding, “We’ve had several murders at Hazelton,” the federal Maximum Security facility in her state of West Virginia. (The WaPo noted this exchange in one of their early stories on Jeffrey Epstein’s death, though without this context.)

She doesn’t mean just any murders. In addition to some inmates from DC that Eleanor Holmes Norton had raised concerns about last fall, Hazelton was the site of Whitey Bulger’s murder, a death in BOP custody of an inmate every bit as worthy of close attention as Jeffrey Epstein, a death that was every bit as predictable as Epstein’s.

Capito went on to list several of the same problems that appear to have permitted Epstein’s death in the Metropolitan Correctional Center: staffing shortages and people assigned to perform duties they’re not trained for.

We’ve had complaints from staffing that there’s staffing shortages, it’s not safe for our correctional officers, they’re being asked to perform different duties maybe than what they’re originally assigned for, and in the budget, there’s a funding reduction for correctional officer staffing and salaries in the budget. Could you help me square with that, and is this a national problem that you’re finding across the BOP?

After Bulger’s murder, correctional officer union representatives cited the same problems: severe understaffing and people hired for other functions filling in for guards.

“(The) reported death at USP Hazelton, while concerning, is unsurprising,” said J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees. “Federal prisons across the country are suffering from severe understaffing, and the situation is perhaps no more dire than at Hazelton.”

The union reported that one in five positions authorized two years ago is vacant, and teachers, administrative assistants and accountants have had to fill in shifts as officers and first responders to violent incidents.

In response to a question from a Republican Senator about these issues, the Attorney General admitted failure. “I think this is an area where we have stumbled.” Rather than answering Senator Capito’s question about the budget, though (again, this was an Appropriations hearing), he instead explained that the problem wasn’t budget, it’s that the BOP doesn’t have all its assigned slots full because of how it hires.

I’ve been looking into this because it’s been very frustrating to me because I’ve always supported Bureau of Prisons in the past and think it’s a great organization and if we’re going to have people incarcerated we have to make sure they’re incarcerated under proper conditions. We are  — The way I look at it our authorized level is good and adequate. It’s that we’re four to five thousand people short of our authorized level.

Barr went on to provide evidence of a systematic underlying problem. “Every year we lose 2,600 of these correctional officers.” Without considering why turnover in the BOP is so high, he instead offered this solution. “My view is we just have to turn on the spigot and just keep these new entry level people coming in at a rate where we’re going to be able to get up to and maintain our enacted level. So I think this is largely a SNAFU by the department.”

Senator Capito warned once more about staffing levels and noted that those staffing levels are one of the reasons why people — even in West Virginia — don’t want the jobs.

I’m glad to hear what you’ve said in terms of getting more people in because the ratios are going up and in certain situations can be very dangerous for the officers that are working there, and then it discourages people from wanting to stay. It’s a tough job.

In a statement the other day, Barr claimed that some of the things that led to Epstein’s death (whether murder or suicide) — the same understaffing leading to people playing roles they weren’t hired for that Capito warned of in April — were “severe irregularities.”

I was appalled – indeed, the entire Department was – and frankly angry, to learn of the MCC’s failure to adequately secure this prisoner.  We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and that demand a thorough investigation.  The FBI and the Office of Inspector General are already doing just that.  We will get to the bottom of what happened at the MCC and we will hold people accountable for this failure.

This afternoon, Barr took action against the MCC warden and the two staffers on whose watch Epstein died, temporarily reassigning the warden and putting the officers on leave, effectively blaming them for conditions he called a SNAFU back in April.

On Tuesday, Barr “directed the Bureau of Prisons to temporarily assign” warden Lamine N’Diaye to a regional office, pending the outcome of internal investigations into Epstein’s death, the Justice Department said in a statement. Two staffers who were assigned to Epstein’s unit at the time of his death were placed on administrative leave, the department said.

Back in April, Barr called staffing shortages in prisons “a SNAFU.” Now, having been warned and having acknowledged the problem, he’s claiming some of the same problems were not regular, but instead severely irregular, and he’s blaming the people on the front lines rather than those in charge of the “SNAFU.”

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158 replies
      • Captain Obvious says:

        Great comment

        [Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This is your FIFTH different user name to date. Using a different name each time is sockpuppeting and not permitted here. /~Rayne]

  1. Yogarhythms says:

    Ew,
    Thank you for citing relevant Legislative branch testimony between Senator Capito and Executive Branch AG Barr. It’s almost like being Executive Branch and republican you don’t need to be responsible for actions that have already occurred because well that’s in the past. No one can change the past. Move along. The future is off the table too. Barr will agree to be responsible for the present and reassign MCC personnel. Warden reassigned and BOP staff assigned to Epstein can stay home on administrative leave and contemplate their jobs.

  2. Peterr says:

    Linking to a story on Barr’s comments about the Epstein death, Brandon Friedman noted on Twitter:

    Probably pointless to even bring this up, but when VA Secretary Eric Shinseki learned of “serious irregularities” at facilities for which he was responsible, he was forced to resign.

    I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for lightning to strike a second time.

    • Terrapin says:

      Agreed. But Barr currently is too valuable to POTUS in his role as AG as fixer/defense attorney to spare.

  3. P J Evans says:

    Budget cuts don’t improve understaffiing – they make it harder to hire people.
    Maybe Barr’s office budget needs matching cuts.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I’ve read where even experienced, senior black belt martial artists are loathe to work alone in some areas of these prisons. That indicates systemic problems and failures of leadership.

    Mr. Barr, for example, in keeping with his public face as Baloo Bear, seems lackadaisical about everything but protecting his don. So it should come as no surprise that his plan to deal with these long gestating problems was to cut staff and salaries.

    It also indicates his deep-seated disregard for the humanity of these prisoners. His response also has the appearance of planned failure. It is a move common to neoliberals who want to justify further – more expensive – privatization that rarely improves conditions, but does improve private profitability at public expense.

    • emptywheel says:

      To be clear, the budget probably may not have come from him. I wonder whether it was a legacy of Jefferson “AL has the worst prisons in the nation” Beauregard Sessions.

      • P J Evans says:

        He could have asked for the needed money. (He might not have gotten it, but on the evidence, it’s a genuine need – unlike the “wall”.)

      • Geoff says:

        He actually looks a lot like Lots-o’ (Huggin) Bear from Toy Story. And is quite possibly more sinister. One can only hope he meets a similar fate.

    • ohsopolite says:

      “systemic problems and failures of leadership”
      “cut staff and salaries”
      “planned failure”
      ” improve private profitability at public expense”
      Sounds like someone’s getting a head start on the 2020 Republican platform.

  5. Charlotte says:

    What a spineless piece of 💩. This A..H… knew about the issues in the prisons. He’s just like Dictator tRump. He’ll never admit when he is wrong. He’s just another narcissistic sociopath and possibly a psychopath.

    Maybe Barr needs to take a shift at the prison and see what it is like. HA!!! Or better yet, let us impeach him and throw his lousy, rotten butt in prison.

  6. Peterr says:

    Barr went on to provide evidence of a systematic underlying problem. “Every year we lose 2,600 of these correctional officers.” Without considering why turnover in the BOP is so high, he instead offered this solution. “My view is we just have to turn on the spigot and just keep these new entry level people coming in at a rate where we’re going to be able to get up to and maintain our enacted level. So I think this is largely a SNAFU by the department.”

    The Sam’s Club/Walton family approach to employment practices. Lovely.

    Sam’s Club pays its entry level workers as little as possible, and they know that they’re going to have high turnover. Costco, on the other hand, pays more to entry level workers and has much lower turnover. That second part of this equation is critical, as they make back what they pay in higher wages and then some by reduced expenses for hiring and training new workers. From the Harvard Business Review:

    Costco’s [compensation] practices are clearly more expensive [than Sam’s Club’s], but they have an offsetting cost-containment effect: Turnover is unusually low, at 17% overall and just 6% after one year’s employment. In contrast, turnover at Wal-Mart is 44% a year, close to the industry average. In skilled and semi-skilled jobs, the fully loaded cost of replacing a worker who leaves (excluding lost productivity) is typically 1.5 to 2.5 times the worker’s annual salary. To be conservative, let’s assume that the total cost of replacing an hourly employee at Costco or Sam’s Club is only 60% of his or her annual salary. If a Costco employee quits, the cost of replacing him or her is therefore $21,216. If a Sam’s Club employee leaves, the cost is $12,617. At first glance, it may seem that the low-wage approach at Sam’s Club would result in lower turnover costs. But if its turnover rate is the same as Wal-Mart’s, Sam’s Club loses more than twice as many people as Costco does: 44% versus 17%. By this calculation, the total annual cost to Costco of employee churn is $244 million, whereas the total annual cost to Sam’s Club is $612 million. That’s $5,274 per Sam’s Club employee, versus $3,628 per Costco employee.

    Somehow, doubling down on running a federal detention facility by the Sam’s Club model does not fill me with hope that things will improve.

    • emptywheel says:

      Adding, that it can’t be as cheap to hire a prison guard as a WalMart cashier, bc there’s a much higher security concern. Or one would presume.

      • Peterr says:

        Given that they are hiring people as support staff and pushing them into being mandatory substitute guards, it suggests that your presumption might be incorrect.

        • orionATL says:

          inside hiring is common and appealing in gov orgs, especially where budgets are being squeezed. any security checks have been done, at least partly, and all the paperwork can be processed internally and rapidly – think turning admin asst’s into fbi agents in training. 5k short is a lot and those can’t just be phone answers, cooks, and janitors.

          without knowing for sure i’d say this sounds a good bit like dept of state security for which Republicans heaped blame on Clinton re benghazi – after having cut something like a billion from state’s security budget.

          Republican senator capito’s “oh my gosh this is terrible. my voters are upset. how did it happen here in w.v.?” – crocodile tears.

      • P J Evans says:

        A young woman I worked with became a guard in a state prison. I think she lasted maybe two years. They do train guards – but it’s still rough work.

    • Jenny says:

      ‘So I think this is largely a SNAFU by the department.”

      Appalled Barr oversees the Bureau of Prisons; therefore he is the head of the SNAFU department. Perhaps he will only view the “redacted” version of the investigation.

      “I am not going to do anything that I think is wrong, and I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong, by anybody. Whether it be editorial boards, or Congress or the President. I’m going to do what I think is right.”
      – William Barr (6 months ago)

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      But the Walmart heirs “earn” $4 million an hour, so they must be doing something right. Not.

      • Democritus says:

        I read an amazing post on Reddit the other day. Check out this guys post that starts with “Because what they are all finding out.”has 4786 points was written a day ago and a ton of platinum, gold etc

        It includes this paragraph on what the merits the GOP really values are, inheritances.

        “This is our society. Our culture. It is one of freedom for all men – an ideal that may not ever be achieved but must always be striven towards. One of the freedom for every person to pursue happiness. And at the core of the ideology of Republicans is the antithesis of that. Their ideology is one of a hierarchy of men, and not even one built on merit, but built on inheritance – the inheritance of money, the inheritance of privelege, the inheritance of a better skin color and better ancestry, the inheritance of entitlement merely from being born one place and not another. Like most of what they do, their fixation on “merit” is projection – they don’t want to have to earn or work for anything. They want respect for their gender, privilege for their race and birthplace, and most importantly, they want respect and acceptance.”

        The full comment was a powerful one and can be found here, towards the bottom right now, the mods deleted it after he sub was brigades by racist trolls because the racist didn’t like the comment at all.

        https://www.reddit.com/user/TheBirminghamBear?count=25&after=t1_ewqqpbh

        • bmaz says:

          This blog is not Reddit, and we do not give a shit what they say or do there. It is beyond irrelevant here.

    • Katherine M Williams says:

      Extremely short-term thinking and planning. The have no interests further than next quarter’s profit, and there had better be a BIG increase in profit, or else.

      What is particularly frustrating about the MOTUs or .01%, is how mind numbingly stupid they are. So many are only in their positions of “leadership” or rule because they inherited vast wealth. Others (corporate CEOs and such) appear to have scuttled and slithered into their positions of world-ruling power through methods of criminal psychopathy and destruction: virtues in the world of the wealthy and powerful. And they’ll keep on destroying and destroying until they are stopped, this time probably by the terrible effects of the climate change they created (and even planned for).

    • Jharp says:

      And I’d like to add that Costco is kicking Sam’s Club’s ass.

      Sam’s has closed several stores in my part of the Midwest and Costco… …it’s jam packed even during the week.

    • Lulymay says:

      As well, several years ago, the CEO of Costco was being interviewed on one of the major networks and I don’t know whether things have changed significantly, but he stated he was being personally criticized for: 1} accepting far less of a salary/benefit package personally than other similar organizations, and 2} paying higher wages to his employees. His response to both was that he personally just taking more compensation (because he could) and that because he paid his staff higher wages, his turnover was far less and in addition suffered far less employee theft (because his staff felt more valued and was therefore more happy in their jobs). Of course for most CEO’s (that’s Latin for crook, isn’t it?) his position was definitely hard to comprehend.

  7. OldTulsaDude says:

    OT but the corruption of the Trump administration is staggering – with a disregard for norms, laws, and decency that should have already resulted in impeachment.

    Allow me to remind Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Nadler that Richard Nixon won re-election in 1972 by winning all of the south and nearly 61% of the popular vote – yet, in the end, that popularity did not save him.

    There is no reason to wait. Act already!

  8. Yogarhythms says:

    Ew,
    Citizenship for 1,000?
    What is AG Barr’s willful pattern and practice of neglect for governmental organizations and governmental employees under his direct control on the job failures? Or what is above the law?

  9. Katherine M Williams says:

    1. Claim government can’t run public institutions (prisons, schools, health care, mass transit, and so on) because they lose money.
    2. Make federal prisons (schools, mass transit etc) intolerable by defunding.
    3. Point to the incompetence of government.
    4. Privatize!
    5. Rob taxpayers of billions, then admit private companies can’t do the job because it is the nature of public services that they CAN’T make money, that’s why they’re gov’t operated; QUIT, and leave the “incompetent” government to fix the problem. Ghastly expensive, but private companies get the $$$ in the end so its all good
    5. Wait a decade and repeat.

    And in the interim, use inefficiency to destroy people you don’t like (don’t vote for your Owned politicians), be it criminals, people wanting good education, or health care, or efficient transportation . What’s not to like for the.01% ?

  10. Jesse says:

    Barr is so infuriating. He’s Cheney level IMO.

    Thanks for this writeup, Dr. Wheeler. And thanks for (I’m presuming) making that CSPAN clip too. A good one to drop in comment threads on other sites.

  11. Vinnie Gambone says:

    “Katie Johnson” in legal papers claims she was repeatedly raped by Trump and Jeffery Epstein at Epstein’s New York City apartment in 1994, when she was 13 years old. A witness, also given a pseudonym — “Tiffany Doe” — said she recruited “Jane Doe” and others. Doe, using the name “Johnson,” gave an interview to the Daily Mail in which she said she did not know who Trump was at the time of the alleged attack but identified him later when she saw him on television. It is not known why she withdrew the lawsuit. She has not spoken publicly or withdrawn her rape allegation since then.”

    Some months back I posted my hope that the raids on Michael Cohen might turn up evidence of a pay off to this unfortunate young lady. Recently I thought I read a statement the feds would be bringinging no more charges from the evidence the feds found in that raid.

    I am still sickened by the tape of Trump saying about a young visitor to TRUMP tower,” In ten years I’ll be dating her. The Katie Johnson Incident is alleged to happen in 1994. Trump was leering and drooling over a ten year old girl in 1992.

    Epstein and Trump were tight in this period.

    I am sorry, but I can’t stop thinking that someone knew giving up Trump would likely be a way out for Epstein. Perhaps Epstein knew eventually the evidence the feds had was going to lead to questions about Trump and so he offed himself for that reason.

    Absent new information, I will continue to believe Epstein was murdered. Who were the guards on duty. Who was the replacement guard? What was his background? And most critical, are there electronic records of when an inmate’s door is opened and who opens it? He claimed to a friend he was attacked in the bruises on his neck incident weeks ago.

    I am sorry, I believe that our government could not stomach evidence that our president is a pedophile. There are other related reports that contribute to a conclusion that that is the kind of mind he has.

    I wonder if Michael Cohen was asked about the Katie Johnson case.
    Seems to me it is more than just Jeffrey Epstein’s body that is being buried.

    I apologize this too close to conspiracy theory garbage for this particular site.

    However, no mainstream coverage even mentions the Katie Johnson allegations.

    I find that strange.

    I don’t need more evidence that we have a pedophile president than the words that came out of his own mouth in 1994.

    Sickening.

      • bmaz says:

        Also, too, Vinnie is engaging in a bunch of unsupported hyperbolic bullshit.

        Hey Vinnie, that does not work here. Don’t do that.

  12. Democritus says:

    JFC fix your agency Barr! If turnover is that high work conditions, and thus prison conditions, are subpar and need to be repaired. Or they are given shit management and pay.

    Or everything is just fucked.

  13. observiter says:

    This “suicide” just seems too convenient. I wonder how many politicians (both sides of the aisle) and monied folks might be potentially exposed if Epstein were still alive.

    • P J Evans says:

      I guess you missed all the legal docs that were unsealed last week. No conspiracy theories are needed; Epstein knew the governments (state and federal) had enough to put him behind bars for the rest of his life.

  14. Mainmata says:

    Occam’s Razor would suggest that, facing a hideous and lifetime future in prison that Epstein either bought someone to garrote him with the cameras conveniently turned off or he was murdered (by any of a number of interested parties) also with the cameras turned off.

    In this particular case, why is there (apparently) no video evidence of what happened and is DOJ covering it up? Barr knows, I suspect. That’s as far as I will go.

    • bmaz says:

      Um, no, This is baloney. Barr had nothing to do with Epstein’s detention location or conditions. In SHU, there are not cameras pointed into the individual cells. Ergo it is not so shocking that there was no video of him in his cell.

      And the allegation that he was “murdered” or “bought someone” has not one scintilla of evidence to date. If the autopsy report returns anything different, then let’s get into this conspiracy nonsense. Until then, it is complete nonsense.

      And “that’s as far as I will go”. Occam’s razor my ass. Occam’s razor would, given what is known, be simply that lame and overworked MCC personnel were lame and overworked and negligently let a detainee die by suicide.

      • Brumel says:

        But remember they let *two* suicide attempts happen within just 12 days (the second successful). That seems hard to chalk down on overworked staff, twice. And Barr must have been on alert after the first attempt. So something does smell very fishy even if we don’t know and shouldn’t speculate what it is.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          True, something smells fishy in Mr. Eptsein’s death. But neither the investigation nor the autopsy results are in, so it is premature to pronounce the COD.

          On the other hand, the abusive underfunding, understaffing, and mismanagement of the BoP make his suicide a very real possibility. Bill Barr, like his predecessors, would rather the public focus on conspiracy theories than decades of mismanagement.

              • bitte says:

                A million years ago when I was a guard with rounds I had to carry a wand with me and physically touch it to buttons secured at various points in the facility thereby allowing my employer to track my whereabouts and ensuring I actually made my rounds.
                Astounding that there are attestation based records in the day in age, much less in the BOP.

                • P J Evans says:

                  I’ve seen that at my train station – they put the buttons on lamp post bases well away from the building, so guards have to walk at least part of the place. (They’d had trouble in the past with guards who would sit in the station lobby and ignore the rest of the station.)

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            So far, other than how many of the great and good are breathing a sigh of relief, what’s fishy is the decades of management abuse, Barr’s ho-hum attitude about it, and blaming the grunts for what are largely problems caused by the top brass.

        • bitte says:

          I am trying to source an article that I saw the other day that claimed that Epstein was the first successful suicide at MCC in 20 years.
          If true, from actuarial standpoint, he’s a bit anomalous.
          It also makes me skeptical of the two main lines of argument I keep reading:
          1.”It’s a larger problem”: America’s prisons and the MCC, in particular, are hellholes plagued by suicide. (Likely true-ish, but the MCC apparently is quite good at preventing suicide.)
          2. “Of course he committed suicide: He’s a narcissist, who had lost everything and had a dismal future.” I bet those conditions also apply to almost all incarcerated in the MCC… Why then is Epstein’s death a statistical unicorn among the 800 currently housed there and the thousands incarcerated over the last 20 years?
          Like I said, I am trying to find the citation. Please post if you find it.
          But, the off-cited Occam’s razor would seem to give different guidance if the question being asked is: “Why is Epstein’s death so statistically unlikely when focusing on the particular facility where he was being held?”
          Seems like something recently changed, at the least.

              • bitte says:

                Aw, that seems a bit unkind. Look I know you are pretty committed to damping down on unsupported speculation in these comments, and I get that.
                But I think it’s fair to observe (and provide citations) that this event is super unlikely, without considering who Epstein is and just looking at the population of the incarcerated.
                And the prevalent narratives such as this:
                https://newrepublic.com/article/154729/completely-predictable-death-jeffrey-epstein
                with a second paragraph line:
                “But inmate suicides are such a regular part of life in American prisons and jails that none of us should be surprised whenever they occur. ”
                deserves to be challenged.
                Looking at the historical conditions of the MCC his suicide was almost a lottery ticket event.
                Likewise the narrative that he was futureless, therefore determined to commit suicide, and that it is impossible to stop a person committed to his own demise looks kind of silly when you consider that the only other 2 attempted suicides in the last 40 years were WTC bombers:
                “Bilal slashed himself with a razor and he tried to hang himself,” Alkaisi attorney Robert Ellis said, according to The Associated Press.
                The lawyer was quoted in The New York Times as saying his client was depressed and weak from fasting and had said, “Allah would rather see me dead than insane.”

                I don’t think it’s conspiratorial to consider the possibility that something had changed at the MCC. Maybe staffing, maybe protocol.. I have no evidence.
                Anyway, much respect bmaz, I’ll pipe down now.

                • bmaz says:

                  Well, it is not just curbing conspiracy theories, it is that suicide is indeed extremely common in facilities. The statistics are frightening. I know Andrew Cohen and saw his piece the second he published it. And, as anybody who has studied prisons much will tell you, he is exactly right. That this happened is not shocking in the least.

                  • bitte says:

                    Agree to disagree, I guess.
                    But over a 40 year history >>specifically at the MCC<<, there have been 2 out of a huge population.
                    I don't like to use the word "shocking" but I do think that it is fair to say it is … well, let's assume 20k people were held in the MCC during that time.. probably more but hey, round numbers: that's .01%.
                    That's a statistic, and I think it's fair to be a bit surprised by it.

                  • J R in WV says:

                    Published reports tally only one suicide and three attempted suicides in the past 40 years at the Manhattan Correctional Center, which came under fire after Epstein’s death early Saturday.

                    This data seems to directly contradict the unsupported statement that

                    suicide is indeed extremely common in facilities. The statistics are frightening.

                    Which is it, one successful attempt in 40 years or extremely common — it can’t be both of these conditions, they are diametrically opposed to one another.

                    If in fact in the history of this urban prison there has only been one successful suicide in the past 40 years, then Epstein’s death appears to certainly be murder or strenuously assisted involuntary suicide. Broken bones in his neck also seem to me to indicate a far more violent event than squeezing off the airway flow and restricting blood flow with a tight cloth, rather grabbing and squeezing while various bones break. Also seems far more like murder by strangulation.

                • harpie says:

                  bitte: “But I think it’s fair to observe (and provide citations)”

                  lol…You mean that link above… which provides no substantiation for it’s main statement?…

                  bitte: “I don’t think it’s conspiratorial to consider the possibility […] I have no evidence.”

                  You’re right, that link and you have no evidence.
                  So all you do have/show is speculation.

                  • bitte says:

                    When I mentioned citations I was referring to the article in my initial post which supported my thesis that this event was vanishingly uncommon in this particular facility.
                    Not sure to which link you are referring?
                    If it was the newrepublic piece which could have just as easily been titled “NOTHING TO SEE HERE” I posted it as an example of this “It’s super common to have suicides for populations in detention” argument which ignores the fact that for this facility, it’s _not… not at all_.
                    What speculation?
                    I acknowledged I have no evidence other than statistics… I guess I did suggest something might have changed, but .. I still feel that’s a pretty reasonable thing to say?
                    In the course of a month MCC went from having a 40 year history of 1 suicide and 2 attempts to 2 suicides and 3 attempts.
                    That’s a pretty dramatic shift… so I opined that perhaps there were causative elements, and stopped there.

                    • harpie says:

                      bitte: In the course of a month MCC went from having a 40 year history of 1 suicide and 2 attempts to 2 suicides and 3 attempts.

                      Please provide a link to where you get those numbers.
                      Really shouldn’t be that difficult.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                “Super unlikely” in what universe? Read up a bit more on what happens every day in federal and state prisons and jails.

                • bitte says:

                  In the universe of the MCC where the event happened, of course. Stuff is generally terrible in the corrections world, I’ll grant you. It’s inarguable that suicide is all too common.
                  But at the MCC which houses 800 (transient, pretrial, high profile population) there have been 2 suicides (Epstein is one) and 3 suicide attempts (Epstein is one of those) out of the tens of thousands(?) of desperate people held over 40 years.
                  And then everyone rushes to proclaim that they aren’t surprised because this was a completely foreseeable event and that suicide is so endemic. That narrative is unsupported by the history of the facility.

                  • bmaz says:

                    The relative history of any single facility at any given time does not mean much. Nobody should be surprised that it happened.

                    • bitte says:

                      Yeah, now we have reached “agree to disagree”.
                      Huge population of people, long historical record, single facility so it has a distinct population.
                      Maybe a math-ier statistician type can jump in here.

                      Would you feel the same way if at a single facility had a really high suicide rate? Like 40%? Because if I were a relative of the deceased I would demand investigations of that facility.

                      A successful suicide at the MCC is a crazy outlier. As is an attempt, for that matter.

                    • bitte says:

                      Fair enough, I suppose.
                      You do see my point though?
                      This just doesn’t happen at the MCC.
                      (Well, it did, obv.)
                      But it is uncommon enough to qualify as a rare (very rare?) event.

      • Katherine M Williams says:

        Do you have an explanation as to why the Powerful people who rule the country would NOT do anything in their power (and that is lot of power) to shut Epstein up? Why would they just sit there waiting for the blade to cut them down when they have the president and his criminal appointees in their power?

          • AitchD says:

            Me either, owing to all the obfuscating collusion involved before, during, and after Miami’s arrangements with respect (and regard) to Epstein.

          • ralph h white says:

            History is replete with conspiracies large and small in scope that have changed the course of world events. I assume they were all theories at one time and had to be investigated and proven. I appreciate that you don’t care to speculate, but with all the power and money involved in this case, it appears less than capricious to cast some aspersions.

              • ralph h white says:

                I wasn’t offering any speculation. I just find it a bit tiresome ( not referring to anyone here) when all conspiracy talk is lumped into the absurdity of tin foil hat. I would enjoy a speculative response from any of our legal minds here regarding whether or not, when and if, Ghislainne Maxwelll is captured and charged she is more likely to be offered a prosecutory deal and take it as opposed to Epstein. I doubt he was going to receive one. I’m hoping that she would provide evidence against some of the rest of the sordid crew.

  15. observiter says:

    Just because unsealed docs may have the goods on Epstein, it doesn’t mean he would have spent the rest of his life in prison. It looked like he was in deep doo doo back then in Florida, but look at how that worked out for him. On the other hand, he was a Democrat (yes?) so I assume he wouldn’t have been getting the “Go” pass that the other Trump associates seem to be getting. On that note, do you know if both sides of the aisle showed up at his parties? What would not be helpful in 2020 would be to learn that Democrats were the ones involved in his businesses (as co-conspirators or other). Just a (horrible) thought.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Mr. Epstein’s political affiliations were non-partisan: he would party with and arrange the happiness of anyone wealthy and powerful enough to co-opt.

      • timbo says:

        Am guessing that it’s more of an issue of who is in power now, not then. Still, the hashtag #bipartisansuicide would make a good band name, eh?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        It’s more of an issue of what kopromat exists, if any, about whom, and who gets to wield or bury it.

  16. harpie says:

    wrt: Epstein death
    1] https://twitter.com/DillonHuffmanTV/status/1161460936936439809
    7:14 PM – 13 Aug 2019

    A source familiar with the investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide tells CBS News that it appears Epstein had been dead one to two hours before he was found; the DOJ announced Tuesday that the warden of the jail will be reassigned @wnct9

    2] https://twitter.com/JamesAGagliano/status/1161585018512318466
    3:27 AM – 14 Aug 2019

    “The two Manhattan jail guards tasked with monitoring Jeffrey Epstein before he died fell asleep on the job and fudged the log entries to show they checked on him and other inmates when they actually didn’t, according to reports…” [NYPOST]

    • bitte says:

      Why on earth would they use the word “fudged” rather than “falsified”?
      Feel as if the copy room is trying to minimize culpability on behalf of the staff.
      “It’s a real whoopsydoodle, that man’s death.”

        • Bitte says:

          It seems I have offended you. I’m just a random intert commenter and I have not attacked or insulted you. Perhaps a cup of tea is in order?

          • Democritus says:

            You really aren’t doing yourself any favors. Harpie owes you no explanations for what other people write, or what she she reposts.

            If you want there is a sandbox over there ->

            Go pound some sand, you might get further.

            • bitte says:

              I don’t understand ?

              Harpie responded to my post with an off topic jibe…apparently. because I disagreed with a consensus opinion and stood my ground when challenged in the threads above. I was trying to suggest that disengaging would let the blood cool.
              Initially i wasn’t criticizing anything harpie did, just the style choices of the article’s author as minimizing the seriousness of falsifying records in light of subsequent events. I have been cordial throughout. I am owed nothing but I think I do have a right to the same courtesy I extend.
              If I have behaved disrespectfully or in an untoward manner just show me where and I will of course apologize.

              [I suggest taking a break and finding something else to do and let the dust you’ve stirred up settle rather than continuing on in the same way. You’ve made 13 comments since 9:30 am EDT this morning which is quite a concentrated amount of activity relative to the average user. You’re also using a second username here since you first published a comment this May — stick to one username so community members get to know you. /~Rayne]

  17. fpo says:

    I was speaking with a friend, a recently retired state prison employee, about the “do more with less” conditions so prevalent in corporate America. He stated flatly that his early retirement was the result of what he felt were unsafe -– and potentially life-threatening, in his case – conditions that had become the norm at this large (~3500 inmates) PA facility. Inadequate staffing, in this particular instance, he viewed as a catastrophe waiting to happen, one that surely would result in loss of life.

    Further, he opined that key ‘management’ was well aware of staffing conditions and had, in effect, been chosen for their “go along to get along” reputation. Conditions which, in his view, were not limited to this particular facility.

    Ironically, it might take something like the Epstein suicide to bring this issue to the fore for local residents who, to be sure, have no idea about conditions inside this facility.

    • Vicks says:

      If I am not mistaken these workers are part of a union?
      What about OSHA guidelines? Clearly there is specialized training required before someone is empowered to handle/supervise a dangerous population.
      Where are the inspections?
      What the hell kind of country are we?
      Look at the victims in this case.
      They were violated by that pig Epstein.
      And then again by the corruption in our political system.
      And then again by what appears to be corporate greed.
      “We The people” left our power on the table and the bad guys took it, in doing so we allowed monsters to be created.
      If we don’t start making strides to get it back we are f’ed.

    • MissingGeorgeCarlin says:

      Call me cynical, but I’m not expecting the community to suddenly have an overflowing sense of concern re: conditions for prisoners because of a pedophiles death.

  18. Watson says:

    * Epstein was on suicide watch.
    * Epstein was not on suicide watch.
    * Due to understaffing, MCC does not have a suicide watch.

    Whatever.

    • bmaz says:

      Here is the thing – suicide watches are designed to be short term things. They allow evaluation of the detainee and a cooling off period. They regularly last around 3-4 days only. Epstein’s lasted longer than that, and he supposedly saw a counselor every one of those days. It is not surprising in the least that he was taken off of watch and returned to SHU.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    There are supporters of William Barr who would consider this a feature, not a bug, starting with the two president’s he has served:

    My conclusion is that William Barr lacks the credibility to lead the investigation into Epstein’s death. If he doesn’t recuse, people’s faith in DOJ will erode further.

    [https://twitter.com/JoyceWhiteVance/status/1161441530269376513]

  20. Democritus says:

    Justice Department Urges Civil Rights Agency to Flip LGBT Stance

    https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/justice-department-urges-civil-rights-agency-to-flip-lgbt-stance

    For motherfucking fucking fuck’s sake. That was after I read:

    Revealed: Republican lawmaker aided group training young men for ‘biblical warfare’
    The group ‘Team Rugged’ offers ‘patriotic and biblical training’ that includes instruction on how to use knives and guns

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/13/matt-shea-biblical-war-washington-team-rugged

    I’m gonna just go buy myself a nice house in what I hope will become NCR or Brotherhood of Steel territory. Stock up some rad away, and skill books.

      • Democritus says:

        Totally agree, since greed and political core became so normalized it’s just been a race to the bottom.

        With ever increasing inequities and inequalities.

        I really hope we can turn this around, but I’m afraid with our current election security status. I hope Moscow Mitch does not wear off, that the new Russo investigative reports gain steam. But I’m worried.

        That’s part of my switch to impeachment ASAP, I used to be with Rayne defending Nancy until about June.

    • Democritus says:

      Bwahahahahahaha. Update: The Don McGahn subpoena fight has now been randomly assigned to US District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

      “Ketanji Onyika Brown Jackson is a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In 2016, she was reportedly interviewed as one of Barack Obama’s potential nominees for the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketanji_Brown_Jackson

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Digby has a snippet about Trump’s excuse for taking money from foreign governments without prior congressional approval, in violation of the Emoluments Clause. [https://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2019/08/lies-lies-and-more-lies.html]

    Trump call it recompense for the “$5 billion” he says he’ll lose by being president. The argument is laughable. Digby tactfully calls it “a joke.”

    The revolving door works because the thousands who pass through it defer making real money until after they leave office. Even while living on a gubmint salary, they do well by networking with each other, jumping a rung or two up the ladder, and making their patrons money by making policy work for them. (Eugene Scalia is the best contemporary example.)

    Delayed gratification – essential to keeping the revolving door legal – is a contradiction in terms for Trump. Mostly, though, he is distracting from the straightforward illegality of what he does.

    Trump has, for example, always ignored time as an attribute of money, which must make it hard for his accountants. It might be one reason he’s had six bankruptcies, one definition of which is that the debtor lacks funds to pay his debts, “as they come due.”

    That’s only one way he cheats. He also values his assets without accounting for debts tied to them. He’ll say he’s a millionaire because he owns a house worth a million, but forget to add in the $950K mortgage. He cheats, too, by not paying his debts. He will tell creditors to take peanuts-on-the-dollar or sue him and risk having Uncle Vinnie showing up to break their concentration.

    The best response to Trump’s endless supply of hogwash would be to add items to the draft articles of impeachment, and to tell Jerry Nadler to put up or shut up. The job will only get bigger, the longer Nancy Pelosi makes him wait.

    • Democritus says:

      Looks like a neat blog, thanks for the heads up :)

      As someone who studied accounting and ethics, don’t even fucking get me started… fucking Trump. I still can’t believe he is actually president.

      I can only hope that we get some real serious reform after this. That the Simpson’s prophecy holds true and Lisa, Elizabeth Warren, wins after Trump. Also while I don’t really watch it anymore, that’s be one hell of a meme’able theme in the general. I also think she really would work to make systemic changes to break up overly large companies that are becoming nay sec threats, look at the NYT article about You Tube and Brazil, and reintroduce a more level playing field.

      We all know someone, or are that someone (have no shame in your game :), who really loves the Simpsons. And I’m not sure how I started where I did and ended up here…

      (Thread from NYT in Brazil with article link, I recommend both the thread and article, even though I’m not a big NYT fan)

      “Now live: Our monthslong project on YouTube radicalization.

      As YouTube diverts more and more users down far-right rabbitholes, could its algorithm, in a way, radicalize an entire society?

      To find out, we went to YouTube’s 2nd-largest market: Brazil.”

      https://twitter.com/Max_Fisher/status/1160950447156473856

      • bmaz says:

        Oh, Digby (real name Heather Parton) has been around a long time, and Marcy and i have known her forever. She is fantastic.

        • Democritus says:

          Sweet, I seriously have plenty of time to read nowadays.

          I added her to my click list for my morning reads, or when I’m trying to distract myself :)

          Oh man, I was just watching Deadline Whitehouse and Frank Figluizzi and Wallace really went in on Mitch in the last block of the show. I mean stuff I think we all know, Rusal etc, but a lot of people probably don’t know.

          ( I legit loved this post of theirs: if that’s the right one, may be off but about the whiny nra guys)

          http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2019/08/red-faced-and-rugged-by-bloggersrus.html)

        • errant aesthete says:

          To Bmaz:

          Indeed, she is – “fantastic”. As evidenced today by a post she wisely titled “Friday Night Soother.”

          Earl and Bmaz thank you for the introduction.

  22. harpie says:

    bitte:
    You say you can’t find your original source for these numbers, so we’ll have to use the Fox News link you provide:
    Epstein’s New York lockup rare place for inmate suicides, suicide attempts
    https://www.foxnews.com/us/epstein-new-york-lockup-suicides 8/13/19

    Suicides and attempted suicides among inmates have been rare occurrences at the New York federal detention center where alleged sex offender Jeffrey Epstein apparently killed himself.
    Published reports tally only one suicide and three attempted suicides in the past 40 years at the Manhattan Correctional Center, which came under fire after Epstein’s death early Saturday. […]

    Basing this argument on “published reports” instead of data seems to be the problem here.

    After a paragraph or two describing the Epstein story, the author then writes:

    Lefty lawyer

    [^^^ Really, you have a problem with NY Post using the word “fudge” instead of “falsify”, but you don’t also have a problem with this? … but, anyway…]

    [continuing directly] Ron Kuby, who once represented a blind Egyptian sheik sentenced to life in prison after a 1990s Manhattan terrorism trial, told the Associated Press that while suicide attempts among inmates at MCC are commonplace, “it’s been a long time since they lost somebody.”
    “The overall quality of staffing tends to be better than your average county jail in Bumbleberg,” he said.

    [The italicized portions are direct quotes from the AP, but withOUT quotation marks. Here’s the link:
    Federal New York lockup draws new scrutiny in Epstein death https://www.apnews.com/39ca1eb755914af8b273966c268a0a9b August 12, 2019

    So, Kuby DID tell the AP that “suicide attempts among inmates at MCC are commonplace”…which doesn’t really support the Fox News author’s “attempted suicides among inmates have been rare occurrences” at the beginning…but, whatever…

    [continuing:] Prior to Epstein, the only other reported suicide at MMC occurred 21 years ago, when Philadelphia mobster Louis Turra hanged himself with a bedsheet tied to the window bars of his cell.

    Again, with the “reported” …
    The rest of the story recounts the previously “reported” incidents.
    And…that’s it, that’s ALL he wrote.

    So, that’s the sand you’ve built your “argument” on.
    danke!

  23. Rugger9 says:

    I see this morning that the WashPo is reporting multiple bones broken in the neck, including the hyoid which is a clear indicator of strangulation. It can occur in suicides by hanging and when someone does the job for the victim. The “multiple” makes me think it’s murder but I may be wrong.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The measured drop in an official hanging is designed to snap the neck, not suffocate the victim. It would also break the hyoid (a free-floating bone in the center front of the throat).

      Breaking the hyoid is common in strangulations. It would be possible to do it by pressing the front half of the throat into the loop of a noose. That would come after a short drop (too short to snap the neck) or a body-weight lean of the throat into the noose, were no drop possible. That would not involve the other neck bones. Were the victim suspended, though, and thrashing involuntarily to escape the noose, the torque could break neck bones.

      Use of a constriction knot might also break them, the sort made with a tourniquet, twisted tight with a short lever. It wraps around the whole neck rather than the front-half. It would take considerable motivation to complete a self-strangulation and/or break the neck bones.

      • P J Evans says:

        I suspect that hanging yourself would have you thrashing as you strangled. AFAIK, most people who do it that way stand on a chair or a box, so the drop isn’t going to be fatal in itself, and they may not get the noose tied or located well, either.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The point is that determining COD would require both autopsy results – which might be consistent with several possible causes – and forensic analysis of the crime scene – which could reduce the possible causes, hopefully, but necessarily, to single most likely cause.

    • AitchD says:

      Motive for murder? For suicide? I’d guess the all-but-absolute-certainty that he’d be kidnapped, a thing he knew immediately when he was arrested in Jersey. Will there be a public inquiry? How many patsies does it take to change a solar panel?

        • mospeck says:

          >WhatTheActualFuck?

          PJ, think maybe you just coined a new one. And true new ones are v rare. Sailors on the aircraft carrier were always competing, trying to find new and original forms and combinations for the placement(s) of the thing. Have heard a lot of really good ones (which I cannot repeat in polite company).
          Also, earlier you said
          >Johnson was being threatened.
          Heard something exactly like this before from some West Pac sailor who feared that his Johnson was going to fall off.

  24. orionATL says:

    i was going well beyond what i had been shown on twitter when i ran across this:

    “… Jill Wine-Banks (@JillWineBanks)

    8/14/19, 11:17 PM

    You cannot make this up. AG Barr’s father hired Epstein without a college degree to teach at the prep school he ran & wrote 2 books while Epstein worked there: One,
    “Space Relations: A Slightly Gothic Interplanetary Tale,” is about sex slaves! Check google if you don’t believe…”

    the attorney general’s father?

    is this true? is this malicious gossip?

    if so, one is closer to the ag’s “protect trump” effort than might have been imagined.

    as for what happened to dear Jeffrey, checking the hyoid bone after a questionable jail cell hanging of a guy who could testify ruinously, e.g., to guantanamo conditions, is always a good idea. keep a very critical eye on autopsy details, record, and the conditions under which it occurred. (plus, “we never discuss personnel matters” :) )

    if what wine-banks wrote were true, it would bring active control over the behavior of bop personnel much closer to suspicion’s home, and better explain the very trivial punishment handed out to the bop folks directly involved in ostensive negligence.

    • AitchD says:

      Barr père was headmaster at Dalton, true. And OSS man in WW2. It’s common knowledge that Company guys wrote and referenced coded ‘novels’. A character in The Good Shepherd (2006) might be based on him or his history.

      (In 1979, during the Iranian revolution and hostage crisis, the V.P. of Westinghouse’s Nuclear Division, in Chalfont Borough near Pittsburgh, had his wife pick up a dozen or so ‘spy novels’ he’d ordered from the local Little Professor Bookstore. She told the manager that he reads that stuff to get his mind off the news. The manager told me this in real time, give or take a few days.)

      • P J Evans says:

        “Coded novels”? That’s a useless exercise in conspiracy theory. (Anything well-enough coded so intelligent-well-read people won’t pick up on the code, won’t be picked up by intended readers either.)

        • AitchD says:

          Remember how the policy numbers racket functioned? The last three digits of the Dow-Jones Industrials figures, first # = last digit of ‘Highs’, second # = last digit of ‘Lows’, third # = last digit of ‘Unchanged’, and you could ‘box’ your #. Also, “Three Days Of The Condor” (1976): Se non è vero, è ben trovato.

  25. harpie says:

    WaPo article fuels Epstein conspiracies, but experts say evidence paper presented consistent with suicide
    https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/16/media/epstein-washington-post-reliable-sources/index.html
    Oliver Darcy, CNN Business Updated 5:11 AM ET, Fri August 16, 2019

    In a story published Thursday morning, the Washington Post broke news that Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy had found “multiple breaks in his neck bones.” WaPo played this revelation up, saying it is “deepening the mystery about the circumstances around his death.”
    The Post’s story helped fuel conspiracy theories surrounding Epstein’s death, which authorities have called an apparent suicide. But, according to medical experts I spoke to Thursday, the evidence presented in WaPo’s story was actually consistent with suicidal hangings. Let’s walk through this… […]

    Darcy relays opinons of several experts, then talks a little about how the WaPo article “played in the fever swamps”, and about how WaPo responded to his questions.

    • harpie says:

      1] Epstein’s Death Has a Simpler Explanation
      Baseless speculation abounded after the accused sex trafficker died, but criminal-justice scholars point instead to a broader suicide problem.
      https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/08/jeffrey-epstein-part-larger-suicide-problem/595918/ AUG 11, 2019
      Lindsay M. Hayes: Project director for the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives

      […] Hundreds of individuals are thought to commit suicide each year in jails throughout the country, and suicide is still thought to be the leading cause of death in such facilities. Why such uncertainty? The U.S. Justice Department’s reporting program for deaths in correctional institutions has not released any data since 2016. […]
      In other words, the United States does not currently know how many inmates commit suicide in custody each year. […]

      2] Mortality In Correctional Institutions (MCI) (Formerly Deaths In Custody Reporting Program (DCRP)) https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=19

      Mortality in Correctional Institutions (MCI) collects data on deaths that occur while inmates are in the custody of local jails, state prisons, or the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Local jail and state prison data are collected directly from jails and state departments of corrections. Until 2015, the BOP submitted only aggregated deaths counts, by cause and sex. Starting with the 2015 reference year, the BOP submitted detailed data about each prisoner’s deaths. […]

      3] FAQs: Mortality In Correctional Institutions (MCI) (Formerly Deaths In Custody Reporting Program (DCRP))
      https:// [break] http://www.bjs.gov [break] /index.cfm?ty=qatp&tid=19

      Can I get more details about federal mortality statistics?

      No. Unlike local jails and state prisons, federal agencies, including the Bureau of Prisons, were not subject to the Death in Custody Reporting Act. The Bureau of Prisons reports numbers to BJS in aggregate and as a result, it is not possible to break the numbers down any further.

      Maybe 3] FAQ has not been updated since 2015, when according to 2] “BOP submitted detailed data about each prisoner’s deaths”, but, then again according to 1] The U.S. Justice Department’s reporting program for deaths in correctional institutions has not released any data since 2016.

      • orionATL says:

        thanks, harpie.

        this information is interesting in an of itself independent of epstein’s death – a rare look into a dark, neglected closet of american society.

        as for epstein, the simplest explanation is that he understood that the jig was up for the life-style he had long enjoyed.

      • P J Evans says:

        I suspect BOP (and DOJ) would greatly prefer not having any lights pointed in that particularly dark corner of their domain. They might be shown to be uncaring and cruel to people in their custody. /s

        • orionATL says:

          p.j. –

          yes, no doubt.

          but, further, i’m reminded that the DOJ keeps inadequate records of police shootings in our nation, either,

          that its records of type and quantity of gun ownership don’t exist,

          and that its records of gun background checks is challenged – incomplete or inadequate.

          in general, counting in the fbi’s assassinations, historical bullying of minority groups, and political views, and its habitual neglect of white unlawfulness, the u.s. department of justice is a dept of our government that seems to feel it has been given a license over time and many administrations to conduct its business inadequately to help government secure the national wellbeing (unlike hhs, treasury, state, etc.).

          • bmaz says:

            Yes, as to all that. Not sure there are a boatload of executions by the FBI, but there certainly are some. I would easily put Luqman Abdullah and Ibragim Todashev in that category,

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              James Lee DiMaggio is a good candidate. Killed in Idaho, 2013, after abducting a 16 year-old and killing her mother, 8 year-old brother, and the family dog.

              • bmaz says:

                Yeah, might could also include Randy Weaver in Idaho. Although that was a pretty exacerbated case on Weaver’s part, and the Feds did wait well over a week first.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Neither would be political, more in the nature of unrestrained retribution, a different dynamic.

                DiMaggio was a long-time family friend, for example. His exceptionally brutal murders happened outside San Diego. A multi-state manhunt found him and his kidnap victim in the wilds of Idaho after a couple of weeks.

                It’s possible that giving him a chance to escape was not high on HRT’s to do list. He reportedly fired, “at least one shot.” The Bureau replied with half a dozen to the head and torso.

                • orionATL says:

                  earl of h. –

                  “unrestrained retribution” is the perfect term for police assasinations. i happen to believe, without evidence, that more than a few police killings of men (usually young and almost always black) are done when police judge a person to have “threatened” them, this is the well-known state terror tactic “hang a body as a warning” or “head on a pike”. the killing fairly recently of a very young rapper struck me as very likely that motive.

                  another is mass departmentally “authorized” killings, as was surely the case in albuquerque, n.m. and appears to be the case in los angeles county.

                  another motive is police hiding their criminal culpability.

                  another is police who are emotionally unstable at the time they kill. a few years ago, a man in fairfax, va. involved in a standoff was shot by a particular policeman when others were withholding their fire. the cop had been recorded as having a violent argument with his wife 15 mins earlier.

                  • Watson says:

                    The safest bet to beat Trump may be a Biden-type centrist.

                    The alternative would be to seek to drive turnout and appeal to the Dem base, which would mean ditching austerity and offering a real alternative focused on standard of living – healthcare, debt relief, Green New Deal, etc.

                    It would also mean ending the reflexive hero-worship of police officers, and acknowledging that people of color are gravely endangered by violent racist cops. Law enforcement needs to be vetted and put under effective civilian control.

                    (Obviously, all cops aren’t bad, but virtually all of them participate in the ‘blue wall of silence’, which means that they will almost never expose another officer’s wrong-doing. Law enforcement is our country’s biggest ‘Don’t Snitch’ organization.)

                  • earlofhuntingdon says:

                    The safest way to throw the election to Trump is to nominate Joe Biden or another Republican-lite “centrist” like him. It would make a lot of Democratic voters stay home, while persuading no voters who lean toward Trump to vote for his rival.

                    There is no mythical center to go back to. But several nominees might beat Trump. The bigger issue is what would they do then.

            • orionATL says:

              bmaz –

              it’s a severe term and i’m confident there could not be lots, but i had three specific cases in mind:

              – the black imam in detroit, the security film of whose killing ew put up here about a decade or so ago. this is one creepy, chilling film.

              – the friend and probable fellow drug dealer to the boston bomber, tamsyshev (or some such russian-like name). shot twice in the top of the head by one of two fbi in the room, with police outside the door. corner ruled it a homicide.

              – most recently, the black man in boston who was suddenly surrounded by fbi and local police wearing suits, drew a knife, and was shot dead. in the only security film i’ve seen, the action was too far away to be sure of who did what when. no audio or body camera used that i’ve heard of.

                • orionATL says:

                  bmaz –

                  neither did i have to google. i relied on a (slipping) memory, of ew’s stories; some of those are hard to forget.

                  better still, you rembered the names – and spelled right – which is more than i could manage.

                  thanks.

              • orionATL says:

                this may be the boston story:

                https://news.yahoo.com/video-shows-black-muslim-shot-boston-police-fbi-165039141.html

                nothing, including this report, merits execution by five fbi agents who knew who they were after and why they were after him. no surprise possible for the agents. not so for the guy assassinated; the fbi approach seems a tactic.

                this supports my view that some police killings involve extrajudicial executions of persons the police target as having threatened them.

                our police are never given the authority to execute on their personal suspicion (or personal opinion).

    • harpie says:

      Basic facts about Epstein’s suicide elude investigators 5 days later https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/15/politics/jeffrey-epstein-prison-suicide-questions/index.html
      Updated 10:06 PM ET, Thu August 15, 2019

      Five days after Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide, federal Bureau of Prisons officials are struggling to establish even rudimentary facts of what happened over several key hours inside a prison rife with greater problems than previously known. […]

      A confluence of missteps and what the Justice Department says were irregularities at the Manhattan Correctional Center have created a puzzle that FBI investigators are still trying to unravel. […]

      The FBI probe is complicated by the fact that key people involved aren’t cooperating, people briefed on the matter say.

      Eric Young, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents Bureau of Prisons employees, said employees should be given immunity from criminal prosecution. […]

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