Posts Tagged ‘Law Enforcement’
Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
B.A. English & Journalism, The University of Iowa
He’s wanted in the United States. He’s wanted in Sweden. He’s currently out on bail in Great Britain. He’s Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks.
How did one man manage to garner so much international attention? His website, WikiLeaks, published thousands of classified US government cables from the State Department’s database, Net-Centric Diplomacy, on November 28, 2010. The mission of WikiLeaks is to provide anonymous sources a place to leak information that is otherwise being suppressed or censored around the world. One of the questions, in regards to the US leak, is whether Assange had a hand in the obtaining of these government cables, which would allow prosecutors to make a case for conspiracy charges, or if the source worked completely independently.
Army Private Bradley E. Manning has been identified as the WikiLeaks source, and he is currently being held in solitary confinement at a Marine facility in Quantico, Virginia. Reports vary on Manning’s role- some say he downloaded the government cables onto compact discs, while others say he installed unauthorized software that enabled access to the State Department database- but it is known that he communicated with Assange through an encrypted instant messenger service about the information.
Not only has this leak been an embarrassment for the US’s diplomacy efforts due to the revealing of candid comments from those within the government and other world leaders, but it also highlights that the US is behind in cybersecurity since the State Department database lacked the security to detect unauthorized downloading within its system. Though legislation for stronger cybersecurity will likely be upcoming as Congress heads back into session due to the breach, the question lingers whether US prosecutors will be able to formulate a case against Assange.
While US prosecutors are likely looking to formulate charges using the 1917 Espionage Act, Assange has also received a summons to Sweden, where sexual assault allegations have arisen. With Assange currently being held in British custody, a tug-of-war could break out between the US and Sweden over where he will be extradited to in light of more pressing charges. The US prosecutors face a challenge in formulating a case against Assange, because according to the 1917 Espionage Act they have to establish that the information obtained “is used to the injury of the United States.” Beyond proving injury for charges and a potential trial, prosecutors need to tread lightly due to Freedom of Speech protections provided under a case like New York Times v. United States, in which the decision was for the press due to there being no grounds for censorship before publication except in situations where US security is threatened. The United States’ claim to be committed to expanding openness and fighting government censorship on the internet will likely be called into question depending on which path prosecutors decide to take.
Read about forensic techniques, including some related to cyber crime and technology
Monday, January 3rd, 2011
Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, declined to pardon Western outlaw Billy the Kid during his last hours in office. The pardon was on behalf of the killing of Sherriff William Brady in 1878. What prompted this last minute decision? On ABC’s, “Good Morning America” Friday, Richardson explained that the evidence of the case simply did not warrant a pardon. He stated that he decided against the pardon, “because of a lack of conclusiveness and the historical ambiguity as to why Gov. Wallace reneged on his promise.” To read more about this, please click here.
See all our Billy the Kid entries!
Thursday, December 30th, 2010
New Mexico governor, Bill Richardson, has mere hours left to decide whether or not to pardon “Billy the Kid” in the killing of a sheriff. The case dates back to 1881…so why the New Year’s Eve deadline you may ask? It’s the last day of Richardson’s term.
For those of you scratching your heads wondering who Billy the Kid is; he is the western outlaw also known as William Bonney. He died by the gun of Sherriff Pat Garrett at age 21. Despite his young age, Kid was said to have killed anywhere between 9 and 21 men. Richardson’s deputy chief of staff Eric Witt wants to clarify that they are not offering a general pardon for all of Kid’s crimes, but rather a pardon for the individual case of killing a sheriff.
Richardson is a known Billy the Kid aficionado, and is considering the pardon because of an alleged promise by Governor Lew Wallace. He states, “Just think of all the good publicity New Mexico is receiving around the world on this…It’s fun”. The defining issue revolves around the belief that Wallace promised this pardon in exchange for Kid’s knowledge in a murder case involving three men. Those who oppose the pardon argue that there is no proof that Governor Wallace ever offered one; he may have simply tricked Kid in to offering up information. Ancestor William Wallace argues that pardoning Billy the Kid would, “declare Lew Wallace to have been a dishonorable liar”.
Some of those in favor of Kid’s pardon have filed a petition, including defense attorney Randi McGinn who has offered to handle the case for free. She writes, “A promise is a promise and should be enforced”. McGinn also says that Wallace assured Kid that he had the authority to exempt him from prosecution should he cooperate and share his knowledge, but that Wallace never held up his end of the deal.
Sheriff Pat Garrett’s grandson, J.P. Garrett, argues that Richardson should have assigned an impartial historian to aid in the case, and believes that McGinn’s involvement may be a conflict of interest. Richardson appointed Charles Daniels to the state Supreme Court, whom McGinn is married to. William Wallace agrees, also citing that McGinn has, “meager qualifications”. Despite these accusations, McGinn claims that her only link to the administration is that she offered to handle the case for free because of Richardson’s lifelong interest in Billy the Kid.
Richardson told the Associated Press on Wednesday, “I don’t know where I’ll end up. I might not pardon him. But then I might”. I guess we’ll just all have to anxiously await the outcome of this deceased outlaw’s judicial fate.
For more information on Billy the Kid’s pardon, please click here or here.
See all our Billy the Kid entries in one place
Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
On June 15, 2002, Elizabeth Smart was abducted at knifepoint from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah. Smart was only 14 years old at the time. Nine months after her abduction, Smart was found alive in March of 2003; 18 miles from her home, in Sandy, Utah. She was found with her abductors, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Eileen Barzee. It was later revealed in Smart’s testimony that she was raped by Mitchell on a daily basis; after Mitchell performed a “ceremony” on her that was to symbolize her marriage to him.
Knowing this, it comes as no surprise that emotions were high during a doctor’s testimony on Wednesday. Smart stormed out of the courtroom after forensic psychiatrist, Paul Whitehead testified that kidnapper Brian Mitchell abducted and raped Smart out of a desire to have children with her and create a new race. He then shared that the 57 year old homeless preacher and Smart had even discussed baby names; knowledge which he acquired from reading Barzee’s journals. The journals detailed how Smart was regularly chastised for not wanting to have children. It was at that point that Smart fled the courtroom, with her mother following. Both returned about 30 minutes later.
Whitehead was just one of many witnesses being questioned in order to prove that Mitchell is mentally ill and does not know right from wrong. If Mitchell is convicted, he could face life in prison. Barzee is currently serving 15 years in prison for her role in the kidnapping. Smart’s team believes that Mitchell is faking insanity in order to escape prosecution. The trial is currently in its fourth week and could last until December 10th.
For more information regarding the Smart case, please click here or here.
Read our coverage of the Natalee Holloway case
Monday, November 22nd, 2010
On Monday, El Salvadoran immigrant Ingmar Guandique was found guilty of murdering Washington intern, Chandra Levy in 2001. After nearly four days of deliberating, the jury made up of nine women and three men, convicted Guandique of two counts of first degree murder. Levy was attacked in May 2001 while jogging through Rock Creek Park in Washington DC.
The jury could have chosen to go with the less-serious counts of second degree murder, but since they did not, Guandique will be sentenced for a minimum of 30 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison. Sentencing is currently set for February 11, 2011. Chandra Levy’s mother, Susan Levy, closely examined Guandique’s reaction as the verdict was read. Guandique, 29, wore a turtleneck and sweater to hide his gang tattoos. He stared straight ahead after the verdict was read and threw his translation headphones on the defense table before exiting the courtroom.
While Chandra’s mother called it a “miracle” that Guandique was found guilty, she states that she will always be tormented by the pain of losing her daughter. “I have a lifetime sentence of a lost limb missing from our family tree”. Superior Court Judge Gerald I. Fisher expressed his condolences to Susan Levy, prior to the reading of the verdict. The verdict proved to be a remarkable victory for the district’s US attorney’s office.
In last week’s closing arguments, defense attorneys stated that it was former lawmaker Gary Condit that acted “like a guilty man” after Levy went missing, not Guandique. However, prosecutors insisted that Levy’s slaying fits the pattern of other crimes committed by Guandique in 2001. Levy’s case proved to be challenging from the start, as there was an absence of forensic evidence that linked Guandique to her slaying. There were no weapons, no eyewitnesses, and no definite confirmation from any medical examiner on exactly what happened to Levy. There were also countless mistakes made by the police and forensic scientists, which only prolonged the investigation. That being said, jurors still felt that they had enough evidence to pronounce Guandique as guilty in the murder of Chandra Levy.
To read more about this, please click here or here.
To read all our entries on the Chandra Levy case, see our page on Washington Area cases