was John Allen Muhammad railroaded to a Death Penalty to satisfy some sinister
running America (into the ground, I might add as my opinion). This lengthy article, reposted
here, sure gives one food for thought, and while the government trolls will be quick to get on-
line and deride "conspiracy theorists" and mock anyone who seriously questions John Allen
Muhammad's having had justice done to him, or the whole case itself....BUT, you dear reader
will safely ignore their derisions for you know all too well that "conspiracy theory" is just yet an-
other name for "executive planning".."management by objective"... "goals driven management"
or "stategic planning"...it's all the same, just the labeling is different. As you know, the major-
ity of America's sheepeople have been "conditioned" to ignore, deride, and pay no attention
to "conspiracy theorists" as that's been artfully associated with "kooky thinking", "crazy ideas"
and the like. Maybe there was/is a REASON this mass indoctrination has taken place? So,
it's time WE THE PEOPLE start gathering courage to walk up to that damned curtain (of near
total secrecy") that separates USa from our ruling elite, and yank it back to see what in hell
is going on inside the little room...what the little men are doing, and start asking WHY, and
if need be, yank their damned asses out of there, same as we've yanked the curtain down
...and WE THE PEOPLE reclaim that little room and put our own people in there, and never
again put up a curtain such as what is there now. Of course, these are merely my thoughts
...and, as for you...you have a choice...the Blue Pill or the Red Pill...take the one that suits
your mindset and belief's structure....
Greetings from the Center for an Informed America
( http://davesweb.cnchost.com/). Please forward this newsletter widely.
If this was forwarded to you and you would like to receive future
mailings, e-mail (mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org) a request to be
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The DC Sniper Trial, Part IV
December 31, 2003
After a lunch break, John Allen Muhammad's trial moved immediately into
the penalty phase. Judge Millette began the proceedings by issuing yet
another unusual ruling; according to the Baltimore Sun, "Millette, Jr.
ruled that prosecutors would be allowed to introduce so-called 'victim
impact testimony' only from the family of Dean H. Meyers."
In other words, after allowing everything under the sun into the guilt
phase of the trial, the judge was now going to limit prejudicial
testimony in the penalty phase to the actual crime that Muhammad was
charged with. Can you say "Bizarro World"?
Millette's decision was touted by the media as a huge victory for the
defense team -- indeed, the first significant ruling to go its way.
Prosecutors were said to be crestfallen -- but only until they
remembered that they had already introduced 'victim impact testimony'
concerning at least a dozen uncharged murders during the guilt phase of
In truth, Millette's ruling was no gift to the defense; it was an
acknowledgment that prosecutors had already presented the penalty phase
of their case. Conway acknowledged that as well when he responded to the
judge's ruling by explicitly instructing jurors that everything they had
already heard was now "fair game."
In addition to everything they had already heard, the state had prepared
a bombshell to drop on the unsuspecting jury: if the sniper team had not
been stopped, prosecutors solemnly informed them, the jurors would have
been the pair's next victims. According to returning witness John Hair
of the FBI, the stolen notebook computer (that vast reservoir of
incriminating evidence) revealed that three specific locations in the
Hampton Roads area had been identified as future targets. The trial, it
will be recalled, had been moved to Hampton Roads - 200 miles from the
nearest shooting scene, but just a stone's throw from the Naval Air
Station Oceana - specifically because it was in an area of the state
that was not directly affected by the shootings.
Although it was Hair's testimony that most visibly affected the jury,
the most provocative witness called by the state was Navy gunner Earl
Lee Dancy of Tacoma, Washington. Dancy, it turns out, is the previously
unidentified witness who implicated Muhammad in both a murder and an
attack on a Jewish temple.
On the stand, Dancy contradicted himself frequently and was caught in
several lies. He testified that he had allowed Muhammad and Malvo to
stay at his home, with ready access to his guns, for several weeks in
early 2002, but he offered no credible reason for doing so. He admitted
that he had given widely varying accounts of his relationship with
Muhammad to various law enforcement officers. He admitted lying to
authorities on a number of occasions about a rifle that he claimed that
he had bought for Muhammad. He denied that he had ever pawned a gun,
until he was confronted with the evidence, at which time he admitted to
having pawned at least nine guns. He acknowledged, when asked directly,
that he was a liar.
What makes all of this rather odd is that it was Dancy's guns that were
purportedly used in at least two crimes, one of them the murder of a
young Tacoma woman. And yet it is not Earl Dancy who stands publicly
accused of the crimes, it is John Muhammad, even though the only
evidence against Muhammad appears to be the testimony of an admitted
liar who can't keep his story straight and who has a vested interest in
pinning the crimes on someone other than himself. Go figure.
On Thursday, November 20, after defense attorneys had presented another
abbreviated case on behalf of their client, the state's and the
defense's closing statements were delivered. Prosecutor Paul Ebert then
handled the state's final rebuttal argument, which consisted largely of
once again displaying photos of the victims both in life and in death.
The jury, after being improperly instructed, began deliberating the next
day. Since it was a Friday, court was adjourned at around 1:00 PM, right
after Judge Millette fielded two remarkably revealing queries from
jurors. Neither received much more than a passing mention in press
Shortly after 12:30 PM, Millette received a note from a juror that read:
"If the jury cannot reach a unanimous decision, what happens then?" As a
few reporters noted, the judge did not answer the question directly.
Instead, he spoke of the time that had been invested in the trial, and
he emphasized that "we really want to try to get a unanimous decision.
You have all weekend to think about it."
If the judge had bothered to answer the question directly, he would have
instructed the jury that a unanimous decision was only required to hand
down a death sentence; anything short of a unanimous decision would
result in the imposition of the default sentence of life imprisonment
without the possibility of parole.
Amazingly enough, the jury had not been given that most basic of jury
instructions. And even more amazingly, when asked directly for the
instructions that should have already been provided, Judge Millette gave
a response that strongly implied that a failure to reach a unanimous
decision would result in a hung jury, when the truth was that if the
jury was in fact 'hung,' then the jurors had already reached a verdict.
Millette instructed the jury to continue deliberating as long as was
necessary to reach a unanimous decision -- in other words, to continue
deliberating until they could return with a recommendation of death. He
told jurors they had all day Monday, and even Tuesday (which had
previously been announced as the beginning of the Thanksgiving holiday),
to continue deliberating.
After that curious exchange, jury foreman Jerry Haggerty was quick to
assure the judge - and more importantly, the media - that the question
was based merely on curiosity and did not reflect a division within the
jury. That wasn't quite true; it was later revealed by the L.A. Times
that "during a straw poll Friday ... several [jurors] had leaned toward
sparing Muhammad's life." Did I mention, by the way, that Haggerty is a
retired Navy captain and judge advocate?
After Judge Millette had fielded the first question, he received
another, possibly even more revealing, question from an unidentified
female juror, who inquired, incredibly enough, whether she could do some
research on her own over the weekend. Told that she could not - that her
decision was to be based solely on evidence presented in court - she
nevertheless persisted in asking for permission to pursue outside
sources, explaining that she intended to research other death penalty
Despite the fact that the juror had clearly signaled that she intended
to base her decision at least in part on materials obtained outside the
courtroom, there was no request by either team of attorneys to have the
juror removed and replaced with one of the three alternate jurors, nor
was there any request to have the jury sequestered for the duration of
That in itself was rather odd. Perhaps even odder was that the woman had
been seated on the jury despite the fact that she had openly expressed
reservations about capital punishment during the juror selection
process, and despite the fact that prosecutor Ebert's primary litmus
test for prospective jurors had been that they be willing, even eager,
to impose a death sentence.
Did I mention, by the way, that the juror who posed the question was
identified in one press report as a "former Naval intelligence officer"?
And did I mention that, given her current employment at the Center for
Naval Analysis, the 'former' part of that identification is debatable?
I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that, perhaps, the juror
was a 'plant' (as was, most likely, the jury foreman). The unnamed
female juror's job was to feign initial opposition to capital punishment
so that when she later voted in favor of imposing it, she could
hopefully sway other jurors to do likewise. Her question to the judge,
coming just after the other juror's question, seemed to be a pretty
clear signal that there were problems in the jury room -- specifically,
the state had failed to sway several jurors and fresh arguments were
needed to bring them into line.
The jury, incidentally, was seated in record time given both the
magnitude of the charges and the wholesale contamination of the jury
pool. The fifteen panel members (twelve jurors and three alternates)
were selected from a pool of only 123 prospective jurors in just
three-and-a-half days. By way of comparison, it took seven weeks to seat
the jury that heard the evidence against the 'Unabomber,' who was
similarly accused of committing a series of impersonal murders across
With no more questions forthcoming, Muhammad's jury was dismissed for
the day. Judge Millette then stepped down from the bench to congratulate
the opposing attorneys, offering the following words to Ebert (who
headed what the judge referred to as the "dream team," and who had been
Millette's boss from 1986 to 1990): "Best job you've ever done, Paul."
Greenspun then received the following accolade: "You exceeded even my
It is unclear exactly what "expectations" Millette was referring to, but
it certainly couldn't have been his "expectations" that Greenspun would
aggressively defend his client.
It is difficult to say exactly what transpired during the weekend break
from deliberations, but after assembling for just ninety minutes on the
following Monday morning, the previously divided jury returned with a
unanimous request that the state of Virginia execute John Allen
Muhammad. Formal sentencing was set for February 12, 2004, when Judge
Millette will formally impose the sentence recommended by the jury.
According to the L.A. Times, one juror who changed his mind over the
weekend, Dennis Bowman, could "cit[e] no clear cut reason" for doing so.
Juror Heather Best-Teague offered this seemingly contradictory
explanation: "I can't say we're all good with the decision, but we knew
we made the right one."
Paul Ebert hailed the decision, reached after just five-and-a-half
hours, as a "victory for society." Muhammad, he said, is "the kind of
man that doesn't deserve to be in society." In the world that Ebert
inhabits, there are apparently a lot of people who don't deserve to be
in society: Muhammad is the thirteenth man that he has personally sent
to Death Row, making him the state's most prolific serial
As jurors return to their lives and jobs, John Muhammad will find
himself on a fast track to the execution chamber. Virginia trails only
Texas in the pace of executions. The average time from sentencing to
execution - four years - is half the national average. And the state
doesn't shy away from executing juvenile defendants. Those are some of
the very reasons that John Ashcroft hand-picked Virginia as the state
where Muhammad and Malvo would answer for their alleged crimes, even
though ten of the thirteen sniper victims were shot in Maryland.
Ashcroft also hand-picked the prosecutors, whom he described as
"seasoned and highly respected."
Behind the scenes, the change of venue for the trial was likely
hand-picked as well. In addition to guaranteeing a jury pool teeming
with Naval intelligence types, the move insured that there would be no
public viewing of the trial. The courtroom reportedly had only 53 seats,
including the ten seats occupied by the prosecution and defense teams.
Most of the rest were filled by victim's family members and media
representatives (who were likely also hand-picked). Only five seats were
set aside for the public. All cameras were banned from the courtroom,
save for a closed-circuit feed to a press room.
Judge Millette was probably hand-picked as well, which would explain why
he continued to helm the trial after it was moved 200 miles away from
the original venue. Judge Millette, incidentally, was the jurist who
once presided over the trial of John "how many of those patches will I
need to get it to grow back?" Bobbitt. In separate proceedings, Paul
Ebert was the prosecutor who failed to convict his spouse, Lorena
Bobbitt. Defense attorney Greenspun had his own brush with notoriety
when he defended Marv Albert on sodomy charges in 1997. More tellingly,
his partner Shapiro is currently representing Brian Regan, a retired Air
Force sergeant accused of being a spy. And Robert Horan, who was
hand-picked by Ashcroft to handle the prosecution of Malvo, spearheaded
the prosecution of the man who was recently executed for allegedly
opening fire outside CIA headquarters in 1993. Needless to say, it takes
a very special kind of attorney to handle cases of that nature.
* * * * * * * * *
There has been almost no critical media analysis of the Muhammad trial.
At only one point during the proceedings was any outrage expressed by
legal commentators, and that outrage wasn't over Judge Millette's
questionable rulings, or his wholesale admission of prejudicial
evidence, or his inappropriate jury instructions; it was over the fact
that Muhammad insisted on exercising his constitutional right to
Leading the charge in insisting that Muhammad be denied that most basic
of rights was Alan Dershowitz. There was too much at stake, wrote
Dershowitz, to allow such "foolishness." Allowing Muhammad to defend
himself, the pundit argued, was tantamount to "bestowing on defendants a
constitutional right to commit suicide."
But was it really the defendant's potential failure to mount an adequate
defense that Dershowitz was concerned with? Could Muhammad have possibly
done a worse job defending himself than his appointed attorneys? That
hardly seems likely. In fact, despite a number of press reports to the
contrary, Muhammad performed quite capably during his very brief career
as an attorney. The Baltimore Sun reported that, despite having "no
formal legal training, Muhammad vigorously questioned witnesses and
argued legal technicalities." He also "proved able during several sharp
cross-examinations." Judge Millette acknowledged that Muhammad "appears
to be competently representing himself, he appears to be asking the
appropriate questions, and he appears to understand everything that's
Perhaps, then, what really concerned Dershowitz and his fellow
opinion-shapers was the possibility that even an untrained attorney
could perform capably enough to expose the fraud being perpetrated by
the state. Dershowitz, by the way, penned a book on the theft of the
2000 presidential election, thereby reaffirming his 'liberal'
credentials, and then just months later used his bully pulpit to loudly
and cravenly promote the liberal cause of allowing the illegitimate new
administration to institutionalize the use of torture on 'terrorist'
One question that remains unanswered is why Muhammad - who had been
quite insistent that he be allowed to defend himself, and who was quite
animated during his brief stint as an attorney - suddenly reversed his
decision and thereafter sat silent and expressionless throughout the
remainder of the trial, offering no protest over his defense team's
failure to mount an actual defense.
Perhaps the answer can be found in the fact that Muhammad was held in
isolation throughout the trial, denied contact with both visitors and
other inmates. His only contact was with his captors and with members of
his 'defense' team. His current mental status is, therefore, unknown.
All mental health testimony was barred from trial, denying jurors any
plausible explanation of how a 42-year-old man with no history of
violence (except for the officially sanctioned violence performed at the
behest of Uncle Sam) suddenly transformed himself into a 'serial
killer.' The judge's barring of all such testimony was purportedly
prompted by Muhammad's refusal to be examined by the state's experts --
a refusal that was, perhaps, quite understandable. But there is little
reason to believe that the defense's 'experts' weren't cut from the same
Muhammad's ex-wife testified that his behavior changed dramatically
after his participation in 'Operation Desert Storm.' He was never, she
said, quite the same after that. So if we are to accept that Muhammad
was in fact the DC Sniper, then should we not be asking a question that
no one at trial, and no one in the media, bothered to ask: how many John
Allen Muhammads will be coming home from Iraq this time?
Vietnam gave us such notorious 'serial killers' as Leonard Lake (whose
Wilseyville, California property yielded the butchered and buried
remains of as many as 25 victims), Arthur Shawcross (who claimed to have
had 39 confirmed kills in Vietnam, and 12 more in the States), and,
indirectly, Richard "The Night Stalker" Ramirez (who was mentored by a
cousin who returned from Vietnam with eight shrunken human heads and an
extensive collection of grisly Polaroids depicting the brutal rape,
torture, murder and mutilation of his Vietnamese victims).
How many men conditioned to kill, and to enjoy killing, will be coming
home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?
* * * * * * * * *
Parallels to the Muhammad prosecution abound in the 'serial killer'
literature. Ebert's strategy, for example, borrowed heavily from Vincent
Bugliosi's prosecution of California's most famous inmate, Charles
Milles Manson (Bugliosi, by the way, also penned a book on the theft of
the 2000 election) .
As some readers will recall, Charlie Manson did not actually kill any of
the victims whose murders he was charged with. In fact, prosecutors
acknowledged that Manson was not even at the scenes of the crimes when
the murders were committed. And yet he was convicted of the murders and
sentenced to death (later commuted by a Supreme Court decision) based on
the state's contention that those who did commit the murders were
completely under Charlie's control.
Just as the state of Virginia has done with Lee Boyd Malvo, the state of
California prosecuted, and sought death sentences for, Charlie's
followers, even though, by the state's own arguments, the actual killers
could not control (and therefore should not be held legally responsible
for) their actions. And in both Virginia and California, although
brainwashing/mind-control was an explicit aspect of the state's case, no
one ever publicly questioned whether the alleged puppeteer could himself
be a puppet.
Ebert's strategy also borrowed liberally from the prosecutions of
'serial killers' Albert DeSalvo, Wayne Williams, and Bobby Joe Long,
each of whom were convicted based primarily on the wholesale admission
of prejudicial evidence of uncharged crimes.
Popular mythology holds that Wayne Williams was convicted of the
"Atlanta Child Murders." In reality, however, Williams was never charged
with, let alone convicted of, the murder of a single child -- for the
simple reason that the state of Georgia had no case. Williams was
brought to trial for the murder of two adults, but the state did not
have much of a case to support those charges either. To compensate for
the lack of an actual case, prosecutors successfully muddied the waters
and inflamed the jury by introducing evidence of no fewer than ten
uncharged child homicides. Georgia Supreme Court Justice George Smith
later commented that Williams assumed an "unenviable position as a
defendant who, charged with two murders, was forced to defend himself as
to 12 separate killings."
Consider also the case of the lesser known Bobby Joe Long. Charged with
committing a string of brutal serial murders of women, and also with
committing a prolific string of concurrent, but unrelated, serial rapes,
Long faced a lengthy series of trials in the state of Florida, all of
which were deeply flawed. One of his many convictions was later
overturned by the Florida Supreme Court. In overturning the verdict, the
high court specifically noted that only four hours of testimony had been
presented on the murder for which Long was charged, while three entire
days had been spent admitting highly prejudicial evidence of other
murders that Long was not charged with.
By the time the state of Florida was done with Bobby Joe Long, he had
received two death sentences and thirty-four life sentences, plus an
additional 693 years. Incidentally, Bobby Joe, the son of Joe Long and
Louella Lucas, was a cousin of prolific serial killer/assassin/patsy
(depending on who is telling the story) Henry Lee Lucas, who, for the
record, and despite what you may have heard, was the only Death Row
inmate to have his sentence commuted by Texas Governor George W. Bush.
Consider also the case of Albert DeSalvo, who popular mythology holds
was convicted as the "Boston Strangler," although the truth is that
DeSalvo was never convicted of killing anyone. He was never even charged
with killing anyone. And beyond an obviously fraudulent series of
inaccurate 'confessions,' obtained by his 'defense' attorney, there was
never any evidence that supported the state's contention that Albert
DeSalvo killed anyone.
What DeSalvo was charged with was a series of sexual assaults/robberies
(Albert, like Bobby Joe, was said to operate simultaneously as both a
serial killer and an absurdly prolific serial rapist), but there was a
serious shortage of evidence to support the charges -- which meant,
naturally, that it was necessary to introduce evidence of a dozen or so
uncharged murders, both to guarantee a conviction and to obscure the
fact that the actual charges were entirely unsupported.
This time, however, there was a unique twist to the strategy: the
evidence of the uncharged crimes was introduced by the defense! After
the state had presented its paper-thin case in support of the
assault/robbery charges, which the defense made no effort to challenge,
the defense responded by presenting evidence purportedly tying the
defendant to thirteen uncharged murders!
The attorney who presented that novel defense, without even a hint of
shame, described his strategy thusly: "I wanted the right to defend a
man for robbery and assault by proving that he had committed thirteen
murders." Prosecutors, needless to say, didn't have many objections to
such a strategy.
The defense claimed that the intent was to prove De Salvo insane by
portraying him as a maniacal killer, and thereby win him an acquittal on
the far less serious charges that he was actually facing. The real
intent, however, appears to have been to use the cover of the legal
proceedings to 'convict' DeSalvo of the uncharged murders in the court
of public opinion -- which was the only way that he could be convicted
given that there was no evidence to support an actual prosecution.
The attorney who 'defended' DeSalvo - by first fingering him as the
prime suspect, then coaxing a 'confession' from him (with help from CIA
hypnotist William Jennings Bryan), and then presenting the state's case
and calling it a defense - should have been permanently disbarred.
Instead, he went on to completely unwarranted fame and fortune. In fact,
you may have heard of him. His name is F. Lee Bailey.
In addition to the curiously parallel prosecutions, Albert De Salvo,
Wayne Williams, Bobby Joe Long, and John Allen Muhammad had another
thing in common: all took the fall for crimes that they almost certainly
did not commit.
In recent years, relatives of the alleged killer and of some of the
victims have pushed for a reexamination of the Boston killings. Evidence
obtained through the recent exhumation of bodies has effectively cleared
DeSalvo of some of the crimes he was 'convicted' of committing. But
don't expect the official mythology to change any time soon; the recent
involvement in the case of notorious disinformation-peddler Gerald
Posner sends a clear signal that the true facts of the so-called "Boston
Strangler" case will continue to be covered up.
Many of the relatives of the children slaughtered in Atlanta do not now
believe, nor have they ever believed, that Williams was anything more
than a patsy -- for the simple reason that the available evidence never
came close to indicating otherwise. The media, of course, happily played
along with the state's ruse, billing Williams' trial as the "Atlanta
Child Killer" trial, just as Albert DeSalvo's trial was billed as the
"Boston Strangler" trial. The truth remains, nevertheless, that no one
has ever stood trial for the murders in either Boston or Atlanta (just
as no one has stood trial for the ten sniper shootings in Maryland).
Another parallel to the Muhammad case can be found in the trial of
'serial killer' Herb Mullin. Mullin's defense counsel, James Jackson,
began his opening statement by declaring: "Friday the 13th, October
1972, Herbert William Mullin took a baseball bat and clubbed one
Lawrence White to death." Not only had he declared his client guilty of
murder, he had declared him guilty of a murder for which Herb had never
even been charged! Jackson also informed the jury: "We do not, as you
know, intend to argue the proposition that [Herb] did not commit these
"We do not," Jackson may as well have said, "intend to actually defend
our client." Jackson employed that very same strategy when he was called
upon to defend 'serial killer' Ed Kemper and 'mass murderer' John
Frazier (Jackson was assisted in all three cases, incidentally, by
psychiatrist Donald Lunde, just as Bailey was assisted by Bryan).
'Serial killer' Gary Heidnik's attorney included this little gem in his
opening statement to jurors: "The judge said something this morning
about people being innocent until proven guilty. My client is not
innocent. He is very, very guilty." Heidnik, incidentally, was kept
heavily dosed with Thorazine throughout his trial and reportedly sat
expressionless, staring straight ahead and saying nothing. He was
described as being "nearly catatonic."
Gary Heidnik had joined the U.S. Army in November 1961 and requested
that he be trained as a military policeman. The Army though opted to
send him to Ft. Sam Houston, near San Antonio, Texas, for training as a
medic. When that training was completed, he was sent to an Army hospital
in West Germany to work as an orderly. At that hospital, Heidnik became
the involuntary subject of experimentation with powerful hallucinogenic
drugs (can you say MK-ULTRA?) Gary was then sent back to a military
hospital here in the States and then released early with an honorable
discharge. He later became a 'serial killer.'
In January 1979, Jeffrey Dahmer joined the U.S. Army and requested that
he be trained as a military policeman. The Army though opted to send him
to Ft. Sam Houston, near San Antonio, Texas, for training as a medic.
When that training was completed, he was sent to an Army hospital in
West Germany to work as an orderly. That did not work out too well,
however, and Jeffrey was released early with an honorable discharge. He
later became a 'serial killer.'
In September of 1948, Albert De Salvo was inducted into the U.S. Army.
He was just seventeen years old and he was on parole, but Uncle Sam
didn't seem to mind. DeSalvo served for nearly eight years, spending
much of that time in West Germany, before being honorably discharged. He
later became a 'serial killer.'
I could go on here. I could go on for a very, very long time. But I
Instead, I will close by noting that there was one website that
distinguished itself by offering principled (though limited) criticism
of the Muhammad (and Malvo) trials: Findlaw.com. Elaine Cassel (a
practicing Virginia attorney, author, and teacher), in her various
postings, has denounced what she referred to as the "shameful treatment"
of Malvo; condemned Ashcroft's selection of jurisdiction based solely on
the desire to obtain a death sentence; and linked the sniper case to the
U.S. Supreme Court's January 27, 2003 decision to decline to review the
use of the death penalty on juveniles.
Cassel also took aim at the strategy employed to garner Muhammad's
convictions. Those convictions, Cassel wrote, "remain quite shaky." She
noted three areas where there are strong grounds for appeal, one of
which she described as "an extremely prejudicial evidence decision
[that] allowed families of several sniper victims to testify, even
though there was no specific evidence as to the murders. Thus, this
evidence is of dubious, if any, relevance and may have been highly
prejudicial to jury deliberations related to guilt." The judge, Cassel
suggests, "may have exceeded the bounds of his discretion."
Cassel also questioned the judge's dubious decisions concerning
Muhammad's purported role in the shootings. Specifically, Cassel
objected to the instructions from judge to jury that they need only find
that Muhammad was an "immediate perpetrator" of the crimes, and that
they could consider the car itself to be a murder weapon. Those
instructions, needless to say, certainly played a key role in garnering
Most significantly, Cassel questioned the notion that a murder case can
and should be treated as a 'terrorism' case. In addressing that issue,
Cassel cut to the heart of what the DC Sniper trial was really about:
In the Muhammad case, the concept of "terrorism" has been stretched
beyond its breaking point. Broadly interpreted, without attention to its
purpose - as prosecutors have interpreted it - the Virginia law would
view every crime meant to intimidate the civilian population as
"terrorism." But this broad interpretation cannot stand, for virtually
every crime is arguably done with this intent ... In the end, when the
proverbial smoke clears, the sniper trials may be remembered as a
landmark in the post-September 11 attempt to broaden the term
"terrorism." The appeal in the Muhammad case will test whether lawmakers
can extend the reach of this emotionally charged term to everyday
Well said. I would add only that there is virtually no chance that
Muhammad's convictions, or his sentence, will be set aside. If there
were any chance that an appeals courts would seriously and objectively
review what occurred in Millette's courtroom, the trial would not have
been conducted with such a brazen disregard for the law.
Tobias Barrington Wolff, also writing for Findlaw.com, has questioned
"what it means for a civilized nation to be obsessively focusing its
collective attention on the swiftest, surest way that we can take more
life in response to horrible acts of murder ... What does it do to our
respect for human life to hear frenzied debates among government
officials about the swiftest, surest way to kill the presumed
What does it do? It cheapens and degrades human life, just as virtually
all aspects of Western popular culture cheapen and degrade human life.
Every time you turn on a television - or walk into a movie theater, or
thumb your way through the latest bestseller, or fire up a
computer/video game - you see human life cheapened and death trivialized
... you see violence, sadism and vigilantism glorified ... you see a
world devoid of empathy, of sympathy, of decency, of compassion ... you
see a lack of understanding, of even a desire to understand ... you see
the celebration of ignorance, pettiness, and vindictiveness.
You see, in other words, the open promotion of a lynch-mob mentality.
You see, coming from all directions, a massive propaganda barrage aimed
at instilling in the American people a thirst for public bloodletting as
a cure for our ailing nation.
What we bore witness to, in the guise of a legitimate legal proceeding,
was a two-pronged effort to both obliterate the line between crime and
'terrorism,' and to sell to the masses the idea that the way to heal our
wounds and make ourselves whole again is through wholesale bloodletting.
All we need do is identify the 'terrorists' -- and then kill them. Kill
* * * * * * * * *
And what of the sniper shootings themselves? As with most 'serial
killer' cases, the murders served several purposes, one of which is to
disguise the nature of targeted killings by mixing them in with a
seemingly random series of murders (which is, incidentally, exactly what
Henry Lee Lucas claimed that he was paid to do). The most likely
targeted victim in the sniper case was Linda Franklin, though there
could be others.
Another function served by 'serial killers' is to provide a pretext for
a full-blown media circus, thereby providing a handy distraction from
more substantive issues. Distraction is, you see, one of the primary
tools by which Washington maintains control. Keep all eyes focused on
the arrest, thousands of miles away, of an aging, disoriented, unkempt
homeless man, and few will notice that Team Bush has bestowed upon
itself extraordinary new police-state powers. Keep all eyes focused on
Michael "Extreme Makeover Gone Bad" Jackson, and few will notice when
Miami police hold a dress rehearsal for New York City's 2004 Republican
This is not meant to suggest, however, that 'serial killer' cases should
be regarded simply as useless distractions. There is, in fact, much to
learn from a thorough, independent examination of such cases -- but
little will be gained from the sensational, disinformational,
homogenized, fear-inducing coverage that such cases normally receive.
This is also not meant to suggest that specific distractions are
necessary to keep the media focus off of the egregious crimes committed
by the Washington elite. As becomes clearer with each passing year, the
American press corps can always be counted on to cover up and/or ignore
that which is deemed unfit for public consumption. But providing
distractions allows the American people (those who are paying attention)
to continue deceiving themselves into believing that the massive U.S.
media machine is not fundamentally corrupt, just easily misled.
The most important function served by any 'serial killer' case is,
without a doubt, scaring the hell out of the American people. As should
be clear by now to just about everyone, fear is another primary tool by
which Washington maintains control -- fear of crime, fear of
'terrorism,' fear of ruthless foreign tyrants intent on despoiling our
cherished way of life, fear of all the things that we must wage war on.
No one can escape the pervasive fear that permeates 21st century
America. The gullible and intellectually lazy (which is to say, the
majority of us) live in perpetual, and irrational, fear of 'the
terrorists.' And so it shall always be. Every hollow victory trumpeted
by the White House is quickly followed by an elevation of the 'terrorist
threat level,' to remind the unthinking that, while we are definitely
winning the 'war on terror,' we will never again be safe.
Those who have not yet lost the ability to independently analyze the
'news' live in fear as well, albeit a different kind of fear -- the
entirely rational fear that comes with living in a country where any
'suspect' can be 'disappeared' indefinitely; and where, without a
warrant, any home can be entered and searched, any phone can be tapped,
any e-mail can be intercepted and read, any piece of mail can be opened,
and any piece of luggage can be searched; and where exercising your
purported right to express your dissatisfaction with the policies of
your elected representatives can land you in jail, or in the hospital.
Perhaps the only escape from the fear is through self medication --
hence the wholesale use and abuse of pain killers and psychiatric drugs.
Few things have struck fear into the hearts of Americans like the
specter of the marauding 'serial killer' -- a monster who kills without
warning, without pity, and without rational motive. It is precisely the
suddenness, the viciousness, and especially the alleged randomness of
the killings that cause such fear. Anyone, according to conventional
wisdom, can fall victim to a 'serial killer.'
Just as importantly, anyone can be a serial killer, hiding behind a mask
of civility. A co-worker. A neighbor. A friend. Even a family member.
The serial killer mythology, a creation of the FBI's Behavioral Sciences
Unit, has played a prominent role in the atomization of 'Western'
society (which is already at a very advanced stage). The objective of
the 'powers that be' is to continue the process until all remaining
social bonds have been shredded -- until the people, broken up into
armies of one, have lost the ability to fight back against the rapidly
encroaching fascist police state.
And so it is that we now have lurking among us a new breed of mythical
creature that preys upon society. As with 'serial killers,' no one is
safe from the 'terrorists.' And no one is above suspicion. According to
Team Bush, someone doing something as seemingly innocuous as carrying an
almanac could be a 'terrorist.' And while 'serial killers' have been
relatively few in number, 'terrorists' will be everywhere.
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