The [Thursday] Papers
"U.S. agencies collected and shared the personal information of thousands of Americans in an attempt to root out untrustworthy federal workers that ended up scrutinizing people who had no direct ties to the U.S. government and simply had purchased certain books," McClatchy reports.
"Federal officials gathered the information from the customer records of two men who were under criminal investigation for purportedly teaching people how to pass lie detector tests. The officials then distributed a list of 4,904 people - along with many of their Social Security numbers, addresses and professions - to nearly 30 federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.
"Although the polygraph-beating techniques are unproven, authorities hoped to find government employees or applicants who might have tried to use them to lie during the tests required for security clearances. Officials with multiple agencies confirmed that they'd checked the names in their databases and planned to retain the list in case any of those named take polygraphs for federal jobs or criminal investigations.
"It turned out, however, that many people on the list worked outside the federal government and lived across the country. Among the people whose personal details were collected were nurses, firefighters, police officers and private attorneys, McClatchy learned. Also included: a psychologist, a cancer researcher and employees of Rite Aid, Paramount Pictures, the American Red Cross and Georgetown University.
"Moreover, many of them had only bought books or DVDs from one of the men being investigated and didn't receive the one-on-one training that investigators had suspected. In one case, a Washington lawyer was listed even though he'd never contacted the instructors. Dozens of others had wanted to pass a polygraph not for a job, but for a personal reason: The test was demanded by spouses who suspected infidelity.
"The unprecedented creation of such a list and decision to disseminate it widely demonstrate the ease with which the federal government can collect and share Americans' personal information, even when there's no clear reason for doing so."
There's a lot more, so please click through.
Today's Worst People In Chicago - Again
"The two Daley family friends - Kevin McCarthy and his wife Bridget Higgins McCarthy - were with Daley nephew Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko at the time he allegedly punched Koschman during a drunken confrontation on April 25, 2004, at Division and Dearborn.
"Vanecko and another companion, Craig Denham, took off in a cab. The police stopped and questioned the McCarthys, who at first denied knowing the two men who fled as Koschman lay in the street with brain injuries.
"Kevin McCarthy repeated that story when detectives showed up at his home a few hours later. His wife eventually identified Vanecko to detectives during an interview on May 13, 2004 - a week after Koschman died.
"Bridget McCarthy, 35, is the daughter of developer Jack Higgins, a longtime friend of the mayor who was chosen to build the city's police headquarters. He recently was picked by the Illinois Medical District to redevelop part of its West Side campus.
"The McCarthys and an unknown number of police officers testified before the grand jury with a grant of immunity from prosecution after first invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the Sun-Times has learned."
The Sun-Times has previously reported detailed accounts of just how uncooperative and dissembling the McCarthys and Daley family friend Megan McDonald, who was once the city's director of special events, have been; I urge you to go back and refresh your memory here and here.
"A judge denied a motion Wednesday to unseal the special prosecutor's report in the involuntary manslaughter case against former Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew because it contains secret grand jury testimony but said he will make the report public after the nephew's trial," the Sun-Times reports.
"Cook County Circuit Judge Michael P. Toomin rejected a bid by the Chicago Sun-Times and WMAQ-Channel 5 to make the 162-page report public.
"Toomin had sealed the report at the request of Dan K. Webb, the special prosecutor he appointed last year to reinvestigate the 2004 death of 21-year-old David Koschman of Mount Prospect and also to determine whether police and prosecutors should be charged over their handling of the high-profile case."
I still find it exceedingly odd that the prosecutor would want the report kept sealed; no one has explained to me why that isn't odd or even inappropriate.
"Webb argued its contents may 'stoke the fires of pretrial publicity,'" the Tribune reports.
Unless that publicity would be sympathetic to Vanecko, and all indications are strongly to the contrary, I don't see how that's any of Webb's concern.
"Toomin said he plans to release Webb's report after Vanecko's trial. He ruled against a request by the Fraternal Order of Police - the union representing rank-and-file Chicago police officers - to permanently seal the documents, which union lawyers said could damage the reputations of officers named in the report."
I get the fair trial issue. Vanecko is facing charges based solely on the events of the night at/outside that bar, not of the events that followed. A hullabaloo following the release of the report could potentially taint a jury, ostensibly putting Vanecko on trial in one or more minds for the whole stinking mess. I don't find that likely, however. I doubt it will be hard to find a jury pool who've never heard of Vanecko, even in a media firestorm. And should it be necessary, the defense could always request a change of venue.
That report is the public's business, and I don't find Toomin's reasoning to keep it sealed - that there are no constitutional issues and that grand jury proceedings are generally kept secret - very persuasive.
"The court filing said letting 3 1/2 months pass to ensure Vanecko would get a fair trial was a 'short, reasonable delay' that trumped any First Amendment issues," the Trib account says.
I don't find even short delays "reasonable" when it comes to trumping the First Amendment, and that's really my objection to Toomin, not arguments like those in a Sun-Times's editorial, which strikes me as a bit of a stretch:
"Every minute the release of the report is delayed is another minute the public is kept in the dark. If reform of the system is necessary, it's important the cleanup process begin as soon as possible."
Um, yes. But really, this is about the right to a fair trial vs. the First Amendment and the public interest. In this case, a balance needn't be met, if, for example, a stalwart jury can still be empaneled or a change of venue does the trick.
"[Toomin's ruling] also stated that the vast majority of the report is based on materials gathered by a grand jury, which is generally barred by law from public release while a case is pending unless the judge determines it is in the interest of justice to do so," the Trib reports.
To be sure, Toomin has determined that it is in the public interest to do so, just not until after the trial.
Artful Dodger Daley
How many times now has Daley dodged having to give testimony in cases like this? I'm too pressed for time this morning, but I know it's at least a few.
Then again, we already know what his answers would be: "Gee, I don't know . . . I don't recall . . . Jon who? Never heard of him."
Still, I would think a skillful lawyer could at least have some degree of success - and/or a determined judge could cite him for contempt.
An e-mail I sent to a friend after Daley's Millennium Park testimony:
Seems to me that attorney did a lousy job with Daley. True, you can't bully the guy into giving up the goods, but can't you get on his case for being non-responsive? Or say, "So you are asking us all to believe that you can't remember if you attended the opening of the grill?" and "So you are saying, for the record, under oath, that you had no idea the Bean was going to be one of the pieces in the park?"
Back to today's story:
"Before making his ruling Wednesday, Cook County Judge Richard Walsh told Stanley Wrice's lawyers that they failed to connect Daley to Wrice's case.
"I'm not going to allow this fishing expedition to take place," Walsh sternly told defense attorney Jennifer Bonjean.
Hence, not a fishing expedition.
Walsh appears to be a respected jurist, even if he can't spell for shit.
But questioning Daley is hardly out of bonds..
"Wrice's attorneys say that Daley knew about Burge's reign of terror at Area 2 around the same time Wrice's was arrested and when another man, Andrew Wilson, was beaten and forced to confess to the murder of two Chicago Police officers.
"At the time, Dr. John Raba, director of the Cook County Jail-based Cermak Hospital, wrote a letter detailing Wilson's injuries to then Chicago Police Supt. Richard Brzeczek.
"Brzeczek, in turn, wrote a letter about Wilson's allegations of abuse to Daley."
That much we already knew.
"Where is it anywhere that says Burge and company were torturing people? . . . Nowhere in this letter does it say, 'Hey Richie Daley, your boys on the Southeast Side are torturing people,'" the judge said.
That's just not true.
Brzeczek referred in his letter to "allegation[s] of police misconduct," and enclosed the letter he received from Raba.
From Raba's letter:
I examined Mr. Andrew Wilson on February 15 & 16, 1982. He had multiple bruises, swellings, and abrasions on his face and head. His right eye was battered and had a superficial laceration. Andrew Wilson had several linear blisters on his right thigh, right cheek and anterior chest, which were consistent to radiator burns. He stated that he had been cuffed to a radiator and pushed into it.
We now know, of course, that Burge and his boys were the brutalizers. What more does Walsh need?
"Outside of court, Bonjean expressed disappointment over the judge's ruling but vowed to appeal, saying that Daley has again avoided talking about the torture that has cost taxpayers millions in Burge-related settlements.
"'Why won't he come forward and explain what he knew and when he knew it?' Bonjean said."
In all seriousness, I would love to see a team of anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists take up residence in City Hall for a year and report back to us on our strange alien overlords. What an award-winning project that would be.
Explain The Pain Away
Giving Up On Gonzo
The Beachwood Tip Line: Gonzo Lite.
Posted on November 14, 2013
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