February 14, 2012
Los Angeles Times
By LA Times
“The police are completely out of control. Why hasn’t this officer been arrested and charged with MURDER?” –KTRN
A veteran Orange County sheriff’s deputy feared for the safety of two young girls sitting in a parked car when he shot and killed a Marine sergeant in a dark parking lot near San Clemente High School, authorities said Friday.
Sgt. Manuel Loggins Jr. was shot early Tuesday as he started to get into the SUV where his two daughters — 9 and 14 — were sitting, authorities said. Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the department, said the deputy was fearful that Loggins — who he said appeared to be acting irrationally — was about to drive off with the girls.
“The real threat that was perceived was the safety of the children,” Amormino said.
“The deputy formed an opinion that he had a deep concern for the children, that he would not allow Mr. Loggins to drive away with the kids,” Amormino said.
A former commanding officer said Loggins routinely went to the school with his daughters during the early-morning hours to walk the track and read the Bible.
Amormino said Loggins was not armed and that it doesn’t appear the incident was alcohol- or drug-related.
The shooting is being investigated by the Orange County district attorney’s office. The deputy, a 15-year veteran, is on paid leave, which is routine in officer-involved shootings.
January 25, 2012
“Apparently, when you’re a Marine it’s perfectly acceptable to massacre civilians.” –KTRN
More than six years after Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich led a squad of Marines into two Haditha, Iraq homes and massacred two dozen civilians, the American serviceman in charge has reached a plea deal.
For nine counts of manslaughter, Wuterich will get three months of confinement.
Wuterich is the last of eight men tied to the November 2005 killing that left 24 Iraqis dead, including women, children and the elderly. It was announced on Monday this week that he had reached a plea with prosecutors during his military tribunal and is now expected to be sentenced as early as Tuesday. According to the Associated Press, Wuterich will face a maximum of three months of confinement, the forfeiture of two-thirds of his pay and a rank demotion.
Of the other seven Marines charged with the now-notorious massacre, one was acquitted and six had their charges dismissed. Wuterich’s attorneys have been confident throughout the ordeal that he would see a similar outcome. “He’s going to be glad to have it over because he knows that he’ll be exonerated,” lawyer Neal Puckett told National Public Radio earlier this month.
October 28, 2011
The Christian Science Monitor
By Peter Henderson
An Iraq war veteran badly wounded in clashes between protesters and police on the streets of Oakland was awake and lucid, hospital officials and family members said Thursday.
Scott Olsen, a former U.S. Marine struck in the head during Wall Street protests on Tuesday night, had been upgraded from critical to fair condition overnight.
Olsen’s injury has become a rallying cry for the Occupy Wall Street movement nationwide, and Oakland organizers said they would stage a general strike over what a spokeswoman called the “brutal and vicious” treatment of protesters, including the young Iraq war veteran.
At the downtown plaza where he was hurt, several hundred supporters turned out Thursday night for a candlelight vigil in which fellow activists from a group called Iraq War Veterans for Peace addressed the crowd. One drew loud cheers when he said the police chief or mayor should resign.
Olsen “responded with a very large smile” to a visit from his parents, Highland General Hospital spokesman Warren Lyons said at a late-afternoon press conference on Thursday.
“He’s able to understand what’s going on. He’s able to write and hear, but has a little difficulty with his speech,” Lyons said.
Olsen’s aunt, Kathy Pacconi, told Reuters in an email that her nephew was showing signs of improvement.
“I believe he knew his mom and dad were there, and tomorrow he’ll be really happy to see his sister, Melissa, because they are really close. Hopefully, he’ll start to improve with her visit,” Pacconi said.
Occupy Oakland organizers said their strike, scheduled for next Wednesday, was intended to shut down the city.
‘Shut the city down’
“We mean nobody goes to work, nobody goes to school, we shut the city down,” organizer Cat Brooks said. “The only thing they seem to care about is money and they don’t understand that it’s our money they need. We don’t need them, they need us.”
Spokeswomen for the city of Oakland and Mayor Jean Quan could not be reached for comment.
Brooks said a general strike was a “natural progression” following a crackdown by the city of Oakland early on Tuesday morning in which protesters were evicted from a plaza near city hall and 85 people were arrested.
Protesters sought to retake that plaza on Tuesday night and were repeatedly driven back by police using stun grenades and tear gas. It was during one of those clashes that protesters say Olsen was struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired by police.
The hospital has confirmed Olsen was hurt during the protest, but could not say how he was wounded. Acting Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan had told a news conference his department was investigating the incident.
He said police had fired tear gas and bean-bag projectiles when protesters defied orders to disperse. He also said that some demonstrators had pelted police with rocks and bottles.
Olsen is believed to be the most seriously wounded person yet in confrontations between police and activists since Occupy Wall Street protests began last month in New York.
News of his injury ignited a furor among supporters of the protests. Activists in Oakland and elsewhere took to Twitter and other social media urging demonstrators back into the streets en masse.
More than 1,000 protesters moved onto the streets of Oakland again on Wednesday night as police largely kept their distance.
At Thursday’s vigil, Emily Yates, an Army veteran of two tours in Iraq, urged restraint by police and protesters.
“The police claim they were just doing their job. It’s all of our job to think before we throw anything at each other,” she said.
Steve Morse, a Vietnam War veteran, drew a hearty cheer when he called for the resignation of either Police Chief Jordan or Mayor Quan, both widely criticized as having bungled the city’s response to the Occupy Oakland movement.
September 7, 2010
The Smoking Gun
A U.S. Marine used eBay to illegally sell dozens of high-tech munitions–some of which he claimed to have found discarded near a dumpster at Camp Pendleton in California–to foreign buyers, transactions that federal investigators allege violated arms export laws covering such “sensitive and classified technologies,” The Smoking Gun has learned.
After a two-year investigation, a federal grand jury has been impaneled to review the activities of Douglas Rubsam, 32, who is suspected of stealing military property worth more than $100,000 and selling it via the online auction site, according to court records.
In an affidavit sworn by a Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) agent, Rubsam is accused of making “at least 42 sales of export-restricted military items to overseas buyers in at least 14 countries, including among others the People’s Republic of China (Hong Kong) and Russia.”
Rubsam allegedly sold “at least five types of export-restricted items,” including components for night vision goggles. According to DCIS Agent John Helsing, Rubsam frequently sold an item known as a Light Interference Filter Assembly (LIF), which “protects the optics inside the night vision goggles from being damaged by enemy lasers.” The LIF incorporates “sensitive and classified technologies that give the U.S. military and certain allies an advantage on the battlefield,” Helsing added.
In his affidavit, excerpted here, Helsing estimated, based on a review of eBay and PayPal records, that Rubsam “sold well over 200 LIFs.”
As with the other items sold by Rubsam, the LIFs are on the U.S. Munitions List and cannot legally be exported without a license issued by the Department of State. Control over the LIFs is so tight that when they reach the “end of its service life it must be destroyed completely, and cannot be transferred or re-utilized outside” the Department of Defense. Included in the restricted munitions Rubsam sold on eBay, Helsing reported, was part of an assembly “used to attach a 40mm grenade launcher to a rifle,” and a device “used in connection with the infrared aiming laser on a rifle.”
In an interview today, Rubsam denied stealing the military items he sold on eBay and termed the criminal probe a “personal vendetta” on the part of the lead military investigator. Rubsam, who joined the Marines in early-2005, said that he left the corps last year with an honorable discharge. He is now managing a Virginia marina owned by his wife’s family.
The probe of Rubsam began in March 2008 when DCIS agents received a tip that government property–a LIF–was being sold on eBay. When agents subsequently questioned Rubsam at Camp Pendleton he claimed to have found dozens of LIFs in a “cardboard box…near a dumpster in his unit’s area on Camp Pendleton.” He later gave agents a box–which had “TRASH” written on it with a marker–containing 10 LIFs (but which, according to a Defense Logistics Agency label, originally contained 100 LIFs).
Rubsam acknowledged that “a Marine selling Marine gear” on eBay “looks funny,” but added that investigators had “no proof” of criminality on his part. He added that he had been unaware of export rules covering certain munitions.
Asked why such “sensitive and classified technologies” like the LIFs would be recklessly discarded as he claims, Rubsam said, “You’d be surprised what gets thrown out.” As for why he just did not turn the items over to his superiors, Rubsam said that he simply did not think of doing that.
According to Helsing’s affidavit, filed this week in U.S. District Court, military investigators have probable cause to believe that Rubsam has “engaged in the unlawful export” of munitions, lied to federal agents, and “knowingly engaged in monetary transactions involving criminally derived property.”
The government probe has recently moved into the grand jury phase, with agents seeking to subpoena Rubsam’s father-in-law to testify before that panel. However, when two DCIS agents tried to serve him with papers at his Virginia home in early-May, Rubsam’s 78-year-old relative allegedly pointed a gun at them. He was subsequently arrested and charged with a felony count of “assaulting, resisting, or impeding” government agents.
July 12, 2010
By: Julie Watson
A tough-talking, muscular Los Angeles police sergeant steadily rattled off tips to a young Marine riding shotgun as they raced in a patrol car to a drug bust: Be aware of your surroundings. Watch people’s body language. Build rapport.
Marine Lt. Andrew Abbott, 23, took it all in as he peered out at the graffiti-covered buildings, knowing that the lessons he learned recently in one of the city’s toughest neighborhoods could help him soon in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“People are the center of gravity and if you do everything you can to protect them, then they’ll protect you,” he said. “That’s something true here and pretty much everywhere.”
Abbott was among 70 Camp Pendleton Marines in a training exercise that aims to adapt the investigative techniques the LAPD has used for decades against violent street gangs to take on the Taliban more as a powerful drug-trafficking mob than an insurgency.
The Marines hope that learning to work like a cop on a beat will help them better track the Taliban, build relationships with Afghans leery of foreign troops and make them better teachers as they try to professionalize an Afghan police force beset by corruption.
The troops believe they can learn valuable lessons from the LAPD, which has made inroads into communities after highly publicized abuses, from the videotaped beating of Rodney King to corruption in an anti-gang unit.
“Their role is to win the hearts and minds of the community and that’s what they did,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Brendan Flynn, who also works as a Los Angeles police officer and will be deployed to help train Afghan police.
The weeklong exercise — unbeknownst to the public — involved Marines dressed in jeans and T-shirts observing drugs busts, witnessing prostitution arrests and even following a murder case. It was the largest group of Marines to embed with the city’s officers.
Abbott, of Long Island, N.Y., rode with Sgt. Arno Clair, a 16-year veteran with salt-and-pepper hair who swims up to a mile a day.
During their afternoon together, police handcuffed a bus driver — moments after he was caught by an undercover officer with $25,000 worth of crack cocaine outside an apartment complex in a south-central Los Angeles neighborhood long plagued by violent gangs.
The tattooed suspect wearing an earring and baggy shorts seemed a world away from the ragtag, Kalashnikov-toting Taliban fighters, just as the streets of south-central Los Angeles are from the dusty villages of mud-brick houses in Afghanistan.
But in many ways, police in Los Angeles’ crime-ridden neighborhoods use the same skills that Marines say could help them.
Marines are in charge of training Afghanistan’s army and police but often have no police experience themselves. Their success in building effective police forces is considered key to stabilizing the country and allowing foreign troops to withdraw.
Marines also are changing their approach, realizing that marching into towns to show force alienates communities. Instead, they are being taught to fan out with interpreters to strike up conversations with truck drivers, money exchangers, cell phone sellers and others.
The rapport building can net valuable information that could even alert troops about potential attacks.
Marines can gather intelligence by picking up the notebooks, receipts and other papers left behind in raids that could provide insight into the opium business the Taliban uses to buy their weapons, Afghan expert Gretchen Peters said.
She told Marines before the Los Angeles patrols that they should follow the lead of some Afghans who have gone from using the term “mujahadeen” or “holy warrior” to identify the Taliban to calling them gangsters.
That, she said, shows how fed up the villagers are with being extorted by them and calling them gangsters will win them over.
“Think of the Taliban as the Sopranos in turbans,” she said. “I think essentially they’re criminals.”
Peters, who has written extensively about the Taliban being a criminal network, has been talking to troops across the country before they deploy to Helmand Province, a top opium-producing region.
Afghanistan supplies 90 percent of the world’s opium, the main ingredient of heroin, and is also the leading global supplier of hashish. Last year, opium seizures soared 924 percent because of better cooperation between Afghan and international forces.
In the end, the police training mission is what will win the war, said Marine 2nd Lt. Jared Siebenaler, 24, of Hastings, Minn., who spent the past six months training police in Afghanistan. But he acknowledged their police mission faces enormous challenges.
Siebenaler said many recruits tested positive for drugs, arriving to work high on hashish if they came at all. Supervisors were believed to be skimming money off their officers’ measly salaries. One force had men from two tribes who could barely stand each other.
And then there’s the language barrier between Marines and the Afghan police.
But like most police work, getting past issues of trust and cultural difference begins with a brief encounter on a street.
As Clair and Abbott cruised past a row of dilapidated homes, the police sergeant told him to notice how a person’s walk and dress changes from street to street, and whether children are playing or hurrying by.
Crime here increases with summer’s heat, he said, encouraging Abbott to identify the violence-trigger in Afghanistan, such as at the end of the poppy harvest.
“What’s happenin,’ man?” Clair said, waving his hand out his window to a man who looked away in disgust.
“If they are on the fence about police and they say ‘hi’ back, then at least we’ve dealt with that issue, and if they don’t, then at least I know who I’m dealing with around here,” he told Abbott.
Abbott, following Clair’s example, waved to a woman in the street. She waved back.