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I love teaching and sharing knowledge. The Internet is a free passage to an amazing amount of knowledge provided by some of the greatest minds of the day. MIT, Oxford and other universities are now sharing lecture notes with the public and allowing us to dip into the overflowing fonts of wisdom that abound. Yale is but one university that has put actual lectures on the web.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Forensics Exhibit

February 28, 2006
Solving Puzzles With Body Parts as the Pieces

BETHESDA, Md. — A white sheet shrouds an autopsy table, one of the first things you see as you enter the exhibit. Around the corner lie a heart preserved in formaldehyde with a small bullet hole through its center, a kidney sliced open to reveal a knife wound and a stomach whose rippled edges attest to arsenic poisoning.

Further on, past color lithographs and early treatises on medical forensics, come specimens of the black blowfly, which lays eggs on fresh cadavers, producing early-stage maggots.

These are some of the displays in "Visible Proofs," a new exhibit that details the rise of forensic science as an authoritative field, with specialized tools for pinpointing whodunit (and when and how). Situated at the National Library of Medicine, on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., the show opened on Feb. 16 and will run for two years.

The materials on view are largely "about the struggle to see into the body and make the body visible," said Michael Sappol, a historian at the library, the curator of the show and the author of "A Traffic of Dead Bodies," about anatomy in 19th-century America. Not only did early forensic scientists need to cull and interpret physical evidence of a crime, they also needed to establish themselves and their work as authoritative, worthy of public respect and attention in a court of law.

This was one reason they strove to make their findings as easy to see as possible, said Dr. Sappol. Thus came the specialized camera-microscopes designed to photograph tiny fibers of hair and samples of blood; a test for arsenic that yielded a simple, visible result (a silvery substrate on a glass tube); fingerprint analysis; and even crime scene photography: all of these served both as crucial investigative tools and as props for dramatizing a case to a jury.

"There was a lot of theater involved," Dr. Sappol said. "The scientist was making himself visible, as well as the evidence."

"Visible Proofs" features a number of infamous murder mysteries, including the "Jigsaw Puzzle Murders," which took place in Britain in 1935.

In that case, mutilated body parts were found scattered under a bridge near the English-Scottish border. A team of forensic scientists was recruited to reassemble the bodies and figure out what had occurred.

By taking photographs of the remains and superimposing these over images of two missing women, the scientists were able to identify the body parts as those belonging to a local woman named Isabella Ruxton and her maid, Mary Rogerson.

Additional study of entomological evidence like maggots (used to determine the time of death), fingerprints, blood stains and other clues pinned the crimes to Isabella's husband, Buck Ruxton, a physician.

Dr. Ruxton was convicted of murder, largely on the basis of forensic evidence, and sentenced to death. He confessed to the murders shortly before he was hanged.

The Ruxton case was "one of several mid-20th-century cases that really consolidated the authority of forensic medicine," Dr. Sappol said.

"Visible Proofs" also showcases a series of crime scenes reconstructed in miniature in the 1940's and 1950's by Frances Glessner Lee. Mrs. Lee, who was an heir to the International Harvester fortune, was a devotee of forensic science and, in 1943, became the first woman named as an honorary police captain in New Hampshire.

Her dollhouse-size dioramas, called the "Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death," provide painstaking views of the victim and his or her surroundings: from the glimmering knife left atop a pile of linens in one diorama to the pink bathroom door left ajar in another.

The visual clues on display are sufficient to figure out precisely what happened and how, Dr. Sappol said. Indeed, the dioramas, which Mrs. Lee developed as teaching tools, are still used to test forensics students in Baltimore. (And so, the National Library of Medicine does not disclose answers to the puzzles.)

Of course, the opportunity to see into a crime — and into the body — increased enormously with the advent of DNA testing, the trump card of much forensic science.

"Visible Proofs" highlights, among other stories, the case of Kirk Bloodsworth, a former commercial fisherman from Maryland who was the first person on death row to be exonerated by DNA evidence. In 1985, Mr. Bloodsworth was convicted of raping and murdering a 9-year-old girl, based largely on the testimony of five witnesses who said they had seen him with the victim.

"When I was sentenced to death, the courtroom erupted into applause," Mr. Bloodsworth, now 45, said in an interview. "I was hated." Yet Mr. Bloodsworth did not commit these crimes. In 1992, DNA testing demonstrated that sperm isolated from the victim's underwear could not have come from Mr. Bloodsworth, given signature differences between his DNA and that found in the sample.

Mr. Bloodsworth was freed in 1993.

His case was among the first worked on by the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization founded in 1992 by the lawyers Peter J. Neufeld and Barry C. Scheck.

Post-conviction DNA testing has now exonerated at least 170 people, according to the Innocence Project. "Visible Proofs" appears at a moment when forensic findings wield enormous influence in the courtroom and in public imagination. Films and television shows like the hit series "C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation" have glamorized the image of the field as well.

On them, investigators routinely reach definitive conclusions by running chemical tests on carpet fibers and clothing samples and performing copious (and rapid) DNA analyses.

Forensic science "has taken on the kind of authority we once gave to priests and prophets," said Ronald Thomas, president of the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., and author of "Detective Fiction and the Rise of Forensic Science." "In a world of great uncertainty, the public is looking for an assurance that we can penetrate the mystery and find the truth." Science is not always able to do so, he added.

"There is a growing accumulation of knowledge, which leads to the possibility of more just results," Dr. Sappol said. "But it is not a sure shot."

The National Library of Medicine exhibit does not highlight cases in which DNA tests and other forensic results have proved susceptible to error or bias. But a number of such cases have come to light in recent years in Texas, Virginia, North Carolina and elsewhere.

In 2003, William C. Thompson, a professor in the department of criminology, law and society at the University of California, Irvine, helped demonstrate that DNA testing by the Houston police crime lab led to the wrongful rape conviction of a man named Josiah Sutton in 1999. When the error was uncovered and further testing performed, Mr. Sutton was exonerated.

Forensic scientists often work closely with law enforcement officials and, "without even realizing it, they can adopt the law enforcement perspective and begin interpreting evidence in a manner slanted in favor of the prosecution's case," Dr. Thompson said.

Forensic analysts may also be captive to their field's exalted status and thus have difficulty admitting mistakes or explaining inconclusive test results.

"They're under a lot of pressure to fix things," Dr. Thompson said. "If you look closely at what's going on in fraud cases, often analysts are not trying to frame people, but they're covering up control failures or errors in the experimental process."

"The irony is that just as forensics experts are riding a wave of credibility inspired by shows like 'C.S.I.,' " he continued, "a surprising number of DNA analysts have been caught faking data."

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

Monday, February 27, 2006

When Mother goes to prison

This article raises the issue of children of inmates who are in foster care; the law provides for the ending of parental rights so that the children can be adopted.

Parental Rights
A Law's Fallout:
Women in Prison
Fight for Custody

February 27, 2006; Page A1
CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. -- In January 2004, Tamika Davis was leaving a department store in a mall with her son, when security officers nabbed her for stealing men's jeans and shirts.
Her children, an 11-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl, were eventually sent to foster care. Last summer, while Ms. Davis was completing her jail term, child-welfare authorities moved to end her parental rights, so the children could be available for adoption.
Now free, Ms. Davis, 29, is fighting the move. In November, she admitted to a Buffalo family court judge that she neglected her children. Still, she wants to retain custody of them. "I'm numb," she says. "I fear I'll never see my kids again."
Under a 1997 federal law, states must move to end the rights of parents whose children have been in foster care for 15 of the past 22 months. The law, known as the Adoption and Safe Families Act, was intended to keep abused or neglected children from languishing in foster care while their biological parents, often drug-addicted, tried to kick their habits.
Since then, the population of women in prison has exploded -- to more than 104,800 from 79,624 -- and now the law is raising difficult questions about what is best for children whose parents are incarcerated. Some say children need to stay connected to their parents during that traumatic time. Others contend the women have demonstrated that they are negligent and unfit and it is better if the state can find the children a permanent new home. Once their rights are terminated, the law forbids parents to see their children, or even know where they are.
Prison sentences for many women are longer than the 15-month period the law dictates, meaning they automatically risk losing their children. Inmates often can't attend hearings on whether their parental rights should be terminated. In some cases they aren't even informed about those hearings, which may be held hundreds or thousands of miles away.

• U.S. Custody Law Is the Exception1
The U.S. is the only nation that routinely moves to terminate the parental rights of incarcerated parents whose children are in foster care, according to international family-law specialists.

The Act also created a financial incentive to encourage adoption. States receive an "adoption bonus" of $4,000 to $8,000 in federal money for every foster-care adoption above the previous year. More than $192 million in adoption incentives have been awarded to states since fiscal 1998, when the first bonuses were issued.
The rate of incarceration of women has increased faster than that of men in recent years. The increase has been fueled by state laws mandating minimum drug sentences and on the federal side by restrictions on granting leniency to single mothers.
The 15-month time frame for terminating parental rights is too stringent, some say, imposing a standard that is impossible for many women in prison to meet. Even after women are released from prison, most can't immediately set up a home stable enough for children.
The Act creates a situation that is "a violation of the fundamental rights of parents and children to have relationships with one another," says Tamar Kraft-Stolar, director of the Correctional Association of New York's Women in Prison Project. The nonprofit group will release a report soon calling for changes in a New York law with requirements similar to the federal act. The report argues that the government should make exceptions to the 15-month rule for inmates with children in foster care. It recommends that child-welfare agencies help maintain relationships between children and their incarcerated parents.

About three-fourths of the women in state and federal prison today have children under 18. There are nearly 30,000 children in foster care because their parents are in jail or prison. Cases involving parental-rights termination of incarcerated parents more than doubled from 1997 to 2002, according to a study of 2,500 cases by Philip Genty, a Columbia University School of Law professor, conducted for a report by the Child Welfare League of America.
Authors of the law say it is intended to work in the best interest of children, not their parents. Cassie Bevan, a senior policy adviser to the House majority leader and an architect of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, says, "We looked at prison sentences, but we weren't that sympathetic." Richard Gelles, another ASFA architect and dean of University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Policy & Practice, says, "the fact that the criminal justice system locks women up for too long can't be a reason why children's development is held hostage."

The Law's Intent
The intent of the law is to sever parental rights so that children can be placed in stable, adoptive homes. But for some children, especially older ones or those with special needs, that may never happen. In those cases, the children remain in foster care, but have no contact or information about their parents.
Some European countries allow incarcerated women to keep their children with them, says Eurochips, a Paris group working on behalf of children with imprisoned parents. In Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy, children can stay with parents in prison until the age of 3. In Germany, children may stay until they are 6. Termination of parental rights is rare in most of these countries.

On the eve of her daughter's June 1999 birth, Detra Welch was indicted in an Illinois state court in Chicago for possessing crack with intent to sell. Ms. Welch was a long-time abuser, she says, and her baby, Gwynne, was born addicted, according to court filings. Ms. Welch spent just two days with the child in the hospital before returning to prison. It was her third prison term in seven years.
Gwynne was placed with a foster family trained to deal with problems she might face, according to court records. Her foster mother has a master's degree in early-childhood education. The family wanted to adopt Gwynne. Ms. Welch, a high-school drop-out at the time of her release, wanted to keep the child.
The baby made Ms. Welch view prison differently this time, she says. She attended a drug-rehabilitation program in prison. "I really wanted my baby, and I wasted so much time in my life," says the 37-year-old Ms. Welch, who says she began using crack at 16.
Her late father was an alcoholic, she says, and three of her sisters are drug addicts. Ms. Welch says she sees her 20-year-old son, who was raised by his grandmother, infrequently. He was recently released from prison, after serving time for possession of crack cocaine. "He'll listen to me eventually," she says.
When she was released from prison in 2002, Ms. Welch signed up for an outpatient substance-abuse program at Chicago's Haymarket Center, a nonprofit facility. After completing the program, Haymarket hired her full-time to work with addicted mothers, a job she holds today. "Detra is one of the best employees I've ever had," says Mary Jane Miller, clinical director of women's services at Haymarket. "She's dependable, loyal and an incredible communicator."
In 2002, Ms. Welch had several visits with Gwynne, supervised by county social workers. She says the child bonded with her, often crawling into her lap and stroking her face.
The last visit was in December 2002. Five months later, her parental rights were terminated by a judge who ruled that her repeated incarcerations made her unfit to parent Gwynne.

Appealing the Ruling
Ms. Welch appealed the ruling, arguing she now was in a position to give her daughter the life that she herself never had. While noting Ms. Welch had made "substantial progress toward correcting her life as she sought to regain custody of her child," an appellate court panel ruled in 2004 that her prison terms "prevented her from discharging her parental responsibilities." The judges said, "Sometimes there is just too much history."
In May 2005, Illinois's highest court upheld the termination. "Were it not for the fact that a halfway house put her on its payroll as a detox specialist, it is difficult to see how she could even support herself financially," the court said.
"I was shocked," says Ms. Welch, who calls the resolution "double jeopardy" because she was punished twice. The courts "went on my past -- but that's my past." Ms. Welch completed a high-school equivalency degree in 2004 and now is studying for a college degree.
Today, she doesn't know where her daughter is, or the names of her adoptive parents. Many family-court records relating to minors aren't public.
"I'm all right and I have to accept it," Ms. Welch says. "God got me here for a reason."
Incarcerated mothers often aren't even informed of efforts to terminate their rights to their children, according to a soon-to-be-released report by the Correctional Association of New York, an independent group that monitors women's prisons. The report says correctional facilities frequently fail to follow "basic steps" to bring inmates to termination hearings.

Jacqueline Smith spent more than nine years in a federal prison in Connecticut for possessing crack cocaine with intent to sell. She says the first time she learned she might lose her parental rights was when her daughter, Tracey, then 9, confided to her during a visit that she was going to be adopted. "Adoption?' Where'd you get that from? Nobody said nothing to me about this," Ms. Smith recalls telling her.
When she asked to attend hearings where the termination of her parental rights would be discussed, Ms. Smith says prison authorities turned her down. Federal prisons aren't required to transport inmates to state court proceedings.
Rachel Chapa, a spokeswoman for the women's federal prison at Danbury, Conn., where Ms. Smith did her time, says the Bureau of Prisons' practice is to allow inmates to participate in civil family court matters by telephone, or even video phone. These types of calls aren't monitored, she adds, as other calls are.
Ms. Smith had a court-appointed lawyer whom she says she spoke with by phone a few times. "My lawyer told me to give it up," Ms. Smith says. She refused, writing letters to the judge and corresponding with the daughter she rarely saw.
Meanwhile, her daughter was shuttled around, living in eight different foster homes in seven years. Except for her final placement, which lasted two years, "everyone else was in it for the money," says Tracey, now 17.
Both mother and daughter protested the idea of Tracey being adopted. Tracey says she made her feelings clear to social workers, who take youngsters' views into consideration, especially those over 12 years old. The goal for Tracey was eventually changed to reunification with her mother, who got out of prison in 2004. The two now live in an apartment in Brooklyn. Ms. Smith works as a manager at an Applebee's restaurant and Tracey is in high school.
"She made mistakes in her life," Tracey says of her mother. "But I still knew I wanted her to be my mom and that I didn't want to be adopted."
To keep their children out of foster care, incarcerated women often try to place them with family or friends, but that doesn't always work out. After her arrest in Minnesota in 2003 for possessing and intending to sell methamphetamines, Katrina Thielen Schultz lost custody of Mercedes Entemann, now 7, and Chance, 4. Mrs. Schultz's sister agreed to take the children, but was disqualified by child-welfare authorities because of a driving-while-intoxicated offense committed by her husband in 1999. A felony conviction often disqualifies an adult caring for an inmate's child.

Instead, Mercedes and Chance were turned over to a foster family. Parental-rights termination proceedings began in 2004. Incarcerated in a federal prison in Alderson, W.Va., Mrs. Schultz was unable to attend the termination hearings, which were in Minnesota. Many women believe they could do a better job defending themselves than the court-appointed lawyers they rarely meet.
Mrs. Schultz's efforts to keep the children turned in her favor, but because of a fluke: last year, a court heard evidence that her daughter was mistreated in foster care, according to her and her lawyer. The records in that case are sealed. Mrs. Schultz's mother-in-law, who isn't the biological grandmother of the children and didn't know them well, agreed to take them in. Last August, Mrs. Schultz saw Mercedes and Chance, who had just come out of foster care, for the first time in more than two years. "I will never take my children for granted again," she says.
The children were relieved, but confused. "Thank you, God, for the house we live in and the food we eat -- and that we have our family back," Mercedes prayed at lunch one day, a week after she arrived at her new home in Gloucester, Va.
'Mommy Laura, Mommy Trina'
Yet Mercedes says she won't forget her foster mother, who she calls "Mommy Laura," to distinguish her from "Mommy Trina." Though she says her foster father made her "clean toilets with a toothbrush" when he was mad, she says she still misses the family.
For some incarcerated mothers, the question they struggle with is whether they ought to have their children. Kimberly Webster says she was "the lousiest mom" and worries about how good a parent she will be if she can regain custody of her son, Anthony, 8.
There were days, she says, when she was so high on drugs that she didn't bother to change her baby's diaper. Ms. Webster, 29, lost custody of her son in May 2003. He went to foster care, but in 2004, went to live with her ailing mother.
She finished a jail sentence in the "Women in Transition" facility, a prerelease program for substance abusers in Salisbury, Mass., this month.
"I don't know what to expect when I leave here," says Ms. Webster, who hopes to be reunited with her son. She knows the risks of falling back into substance abuse, for she once was off drugs for four years and then relapsed, she says. "I don't want to fail him again."
Lawyers who assist women in their uphill battles worry, too. Mary Beth Feindt helped her client, Latasha Brown, win parole and more time to fight termination proceedings. Ms. Brown, 27, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter after killing her partner with a kitchen knife. In prison for 23 months, she rarely saw her two children, now 7 and 3, who are in foster care. She learned to read and write so she could write to them. Proud of her newly acquired literacy, she says she plans to "take my children to the library and read to them."
Ms. Feindt, her attorney, says she hopes Ms. Brown will get the long-term therapy, parenting assistance and other services she will need. "I do wonder how I would live with myself if I get the kids back and something goes wrong," Ms. Feindt says.
After being released from prison, many women go back to the same communities, without a job or a place to live. "It is unreasonable to expect these women to resume parenting and make good choices," says Marilyn Montenegro, a Los Angeles social worker who counsels women in prison and believes they should be given more time to put their lives back together after getting out. The "rigid timelines" set for moving to cut off parental rights after children are in foster care for 15 months "aren't realistic," she says.
Ms. Davis, the woman arrested for stealing jeans and shirts at the Cheektowaga, N.Y., mall, recalls that when she was 7, her mother would steal minks as she looked on. "I was the only kid I knew who went to school wearing a mink stole," she says. While she was serving her most recent sentence, her mother, who gave birth to her at 15, was also in prison, she says.
Ms. Davis's arrest at the mall wasn't her first. An arrest in 2000 on assault charges forced her to find care for her children while she served 18 months in state prison. Leaving them with fathers wasn't an option: her son's dad was serving a 100-year prison term for murder, while her daughter's father died of gunshot wounds. Ms. Davis left her son, Ramon, and daughter, Destiny, with an aunt while she did her time.
During her most recent time in jail, her children ended up in foster care. After they had been there for more than 15 months, the state, as required, moved to terminate Ms. Davis's parental rights.
While in jail, Ms. Davis took the parenting classes required for reunification with her children. She also attended Alcoholics Anonymous and drug-rehabilitation sessions, even though she says she doesn't have an addiction problem. Every Thursday, social workers brought her children for visits.
In March, her son, then 10, wrote her a letter:
You have to get your self strate. I cannot wait until you get out of jail so we can start all over again. You will get a job and we can have a good life. You know I love you badly just try to be right in jail so you can have us back. I love you mom.
"The kids tell me they really want us to be together again," Ms. Davis said in August, days before her release from the Erie County Correctional Facility. She planned to find work and save money for an apartment and furniture. One day, she told her children, she would go to school to be a hairdresser.
It was an ambitious dream for Ms. Davis, a high-school drop-out who says she has held only one job, a stint at a supermarket before her children were born. Instead she says she made her living as her mother had: supplementing welfare benefits by being a "booster," stealing goods and selling them on the street. "I'd make $350 to $500 a day," she says. "It paid the bills and gave me Chanel pocketbooks."
After her release from jail in August, Ms. Davis moved in with an aunt, who asked her for money. Unable to pay, she went to stay with a cousin.
On Sept. 8, Ms. Davis had her first postincarceration hearing on ending her parental rights. When the hearing began, she wasn't there. An hour and 20 minutes after her scheduled court appearance, she walked in.
'I Don't Understand'
The lawyers and social workers had gone; the judge had moved on to other matters. "I didn't have money for the bus, and I had to walk in the rain," Ms. Davis explained, wondering why no one waited for her. "I don't understand how I got into this mess."
A week earlier, she says she sought work as a dietary aide in a nursing home. She arrived two hours late for the interview, she says, and when she tried to reschedule, she was told the job was filled.
On Sept. 26, Ms. Davis went back to the Cheektowaga Mall. This time, police say, she stole a Coach purse, a gold bracelet and earrings, shoes, a jacket, jeans and belt and child's jacket and hat. Ms. Davis agreed to enter a drug program in lieu of a jail sentence.
After Ms. Davis missed two weekly visits with her children, her son worried that his mother "might be dead," according to a report given to Ms. Davis's lawyer in October by social workers. "These kids really care about her," says David Blackley, her lawyer.
Child-welfare workers recommended Ms. Davis agree to a conditional surrender of her parental rights. This would enable her children to be freed for adoption, but would still give her occasional visits with them. Ms. Davis rejected this because she doesn't want her children to be adopted.
Last month, she returned to court, trying to keep her children. One of the children's social workers said Ms. Davis had made a "remarkable turnaround," because she now is showing up on time for visits with her children and has found a place to live, a $250-a-month apartment paid for directly by welfare. She remains unemployed.
Child-welfare workers said Ms. Davis's children were struggling but still attached to her. She was required to show receipts for the Christmas presents she gave them, to prove she had purchased them.
Her case will be considered again in July. By then, Ms. Davis must have a "suitable income," the judge said. "You have six months to get your act together," said Erie County Family Court Judge Patricia Maxwell. "You've got to decide whether you can be a mother."
Ms. Davis has already made that decision. She says she recently learned she is pregnant.

This is a copyrighted article from the Wall Street Journal that was published on Monday, February 27, 2006.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

New Danish Legal Response to Cartoons


Monday, February 20, 2006

Denmark may ban religious slander after Muhammad cartoons furor
Katerina Ossenova at 6:53 PM ET

[JURIST] The Danish ambassador to Saudi Arabia has said that Denmark will take steps to ban religious slander in accordance with Danish and European laws, according to reports Monday. As a result of the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad [JURIST news archive], Ambassador Hanz Kingburgh met with Muslim World League [advocacy website] General Secretary Abdullah al-Turki Monday and discussed Denmark's plans to take legal measures as well as offering the apology offered by the Danish newspaper which was reprinted in the Saudi press over the weekend. The cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad first appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten [media website] in September and were later reprinted [Le Monde slide show] in other European and world papers, sparking violent protests the Middle East and Asia. UPI has more. EU officials have to this point been unreceptive to suggestions that the regional block adopt formal laws banning religious slander, but EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana said last week after a meeting with the head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference [official website] that the EU and the OIC "are considering certain ideas to safeguard and protect religious values in general, but the time is not appropriate to disclose the details." UPI has more.

Meanwhile, a Shariat Court in India has issued a religious decree sentencing the author of the Danish cartoons to death. The fatwa [Wikipedia backgrounder] was issued Sunday after an Indian provincial minister announced a cash reward for the person beheading the cartoonist, but its significance in India is debatable as Islamic law does not formally apply in the Hindu state. Local Muslim leaders insist, however, that it is applicable wherever Muslims live. Press Trust of India has more.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Crime on Indian Reservations

The New York Times
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February 19, 2006
Tribal Underworld
Drug Traffickers Find Haven in Shadows of Indian Country

ST. REGIS MOHAWK RESERVATION, N.Y. — He had eluded the authorities for years. Witnesses against him had mysteriously disappeared. Shots were fired from his highly secured compound here last year when the state police tried to close in.

The man, John V. Oakes, like a fast-rising number of American Indian drug traffickers across the country, saw himself as "untouchable," as one senior investigator put it, protected by armed enforcers and a code of silence that ruled the reservation.

After he was finally arrested last May, Mr. Oakes was recorded from jail talking on the phone with his estranged wife. "I can't believe people let this happen to me," he said, according to Derek Champagne, the Franklin County district attorney who listened to the recorded call. "You can't touch me. I'm on the reservation, and I do what I want."

Investigators described Mr. Oakes as an intimidating trafficker who concentrated on stealing drugs and cash from a prosperous and growing cluster of criminals who, like Mr. Oakes, have built sprawling mansions near worn-down trailers on this reservation straddling the Canadian border.

Law enforcement officials say Mr. Oakes and the drug lords he is accused of stealing from are part of a violent but largely overlooked wave of trafficking and crime that has swept through the nation's Indian reservations in recent years, as large-scale criminal organizations have found havens and allies in the wide-open and isolated regions of Indian country.

In the eyes of law enforcement, reservations have become a critical link in the drug underworld. They have helped traffickers transport high-potency marijuana and Ecstasy from eastern Canada into cities like Buffalo, Boston and New York, and have facilitated the passage of cocaine and methamphetamine from cities in the West and Midwest into rural America.

In some cases, outside drug gangs work with Indian criminals to distribute drugs on Indian and non-Indian lands. And on a growing number of reservations, drug traffickers — particularly Mexican criminals — are marrying Indian women to establish themselves on reservations.

At the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation in northwestern Wisconsin, for instance, several members of the Latin Kings gang married Indian women while a tribal offshoot of the gang built a $3 million crack cocaine ring moving drugs from Milwaukee into and around the reservation over the past few years, prosecutors said.

Increasingly American Indians are breaking away to build their own violent, Mafia-like enterprises, according to an examination of dozens of court records and interviews with more than 50 federal and local prosecutors, tribal law enforcement officials and tribal members.

"This is very serious and has created major problems in the community," said Clifford Martel, a former senior police investigator for the Red Lake Nation in northern Minnesota, who was fired in July and said it was because he had tried to rid that reservation of drug traffickers with close ties to powerful tribe members.

"The amount of drugs was really impacting that community, our community, just as if it were Chicago, and big loads were coming in all the time," Mr. Martel said.

For traffickers of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, painkillers and people, reservations offer many advantages. Law enforcement is spotty at best. Tribal sovereignty, varying state laws and inconsistent federal interest in prosecuting drug crimes create jurisdictional confusion and conflict.

The deep loyalty that exists within tribes, where neighbors are often related, and the intense mistrust of the American justice system make securing witnesses and using undercover informants extremely difficult. And on some reservations, Indian drug traffickers have close relationships with tribal government or law enforcement officials and enjoy special protection that allows them to operate freely, investigators say.

A Direct Hand in Trafficking

Casino money has also fueled the surge, providing a fast-growing source of customers and well-financed partners for outside drug traffickers. And cutbacks in welfare payments in cities have prompted many Indians to return to reservations, often bringing with them connections to gangs and drug rings.

Some traffickers have given away drugs to Indians as a way of luring them into the trade. The recently convicted leader of a Mexican drug ring had a chilling strategy on five reservations in Wyoming and the Midwest, the authorities said: targeting tribes with high alcohol addiction rates and handing out free methamphetamine, recruiting the newly addicted Indians as dealers and orchestrating romantic relationships between gang members and Indian women.

The surge in drug-related crime stands in sharp contrast to the great strides Indians have made over the past several decades, strengthening their sovereignty and culture, making their way into American politics and government and — for a small but rising number of tribes — growing rich with new casino revenue.

At the same time, American Indians like Mr. Oakes have capitalized on the drug trade, carving out a deep piece of the pie for themselves, after decades in which Indians were typically recruited to help non-Indian traffickers smuggle drugs across the borders and through the country.

"They started out solely as mules, then they realized there was an awful lot more profit in dealing directly" with the upper echelons of organized crime, said Mr. Champagne, the district attorney. "Why should they just get paid for bringing it across the river?"

Here on Mohawk land, a reservation of roughly 6,000 people on the United States side, according to the tribe, investigators estimate that 10 to 15 major Indian criminal organizations, along with outside drug rings, move more than $1 billion annually in high-grade marijuana and Ecstasy across the Canadian border, through the reservation and into the Northeast. Prosecutors say they are catching only about 2 percent of that contraband.

The drug trade afforded Mr. Oakes a lifestyle that neighbors on this reservation could barely dream of. Stealing from other dealers was inherently dangerous — as Mr. Champagne said, "I was surprised that he wasn't going to be my next homicide." But for Mr. Oakes the rewards outweighed the risk: He owned a gated compound on the St. Lawrence River, with 16 surveillance cameras, a souped-up Lincoln Navigator and several speedboats.

Yet at his bail hearing Mr. Oakes told a judge that he was supporting himself solely on a Navy pension.

Mr. Oakes eventually pleaded guilty to selling drugs to undercover agents, after investigators seized from the compound 17,000 tablets of Ecstasy, worth $340,000 on the street, two pounds of high-grade marijuana and several shotguns and rifles. But investigators said Mr. Oakes was a prime suspect in at least a dozen robberies of drug traffickers, netting him hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, cocaine and marijuana. He is expected to be sentenced next month to 10 years in state prison, the authorities said.

The federal government could not provide comprehensive statistics on drug trafficking through reservations. But overall crime figures point to a much higher rate of violence on the nation's 261 federally recognized reservations compared with the rest of the nation. A 2004 Justice Department report found that American Indians and Alaska Natives experienced a per capita rate of violent crime twice that of the United States population. And the number of police officers per capita on Indian reservations is starkly lower than elsewhere in the country, other reports show.

Steven W. Perry, a statistician with the Justice Department and the author of the 2004 report, a 10-year study of crime in Indian country, said the judicial patchwork that covered Indian reservations had made it impossible to provide an accurate statistical portrait. Of the 561 federally recognized Indian tribes, 171 have their own courts, and only 71 have their own jails, Mr. Perry said.

Other federal officials say they are aware, through anecdotal reports and growing concerns reported to them by tribal leaders, of a marked rise in drug trafficking, particularly involving methamphetamine, and crimes like murder and robbery that come in its wake.

"It appears there is a very significant crime problem on most of the reservations that we are aware of," said Chris Chaney, deputy bureau director of law enforcement services for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. "I am concerned that it might be escalating within the last couple of years."

Addiction, Confusion, Corruption

Although much of the drug trafficking on reservations involves moving the contraband across the nation's borders and from large cities through the states, the drugs often never leave Indian lands.

At the Blackfeet Nation in Browning, Mont., methamphetamine addiction is rampant among the 10,000 members of the tribe, unemployment reaches 85 percent in the winter and drug-related violence is widespread.

"It's destroying our culture, our way of life, killing our people," said Darrel Rides at the Door, a drug and alcohol counselor who uses traditional healing therapies, burning sage and sweet grass during "talking circles," to cleanse the soul of the demons of addiction. "A lot of people, they feel sort of disempowered to do anything about it."

Local law enforcement officials in Montana, including Jeff Faque, the under sheriff of Glacier County, said that with no jurisdiction over the reservation, they could not stem the large quantities of methamphetamine moving through it in a state with one of the highest rates of meth use in the nation. Mexican gangs based in Washington State are working with Blackfeet Indians and others to traffic methamphetamine into and across Montana, the authorities say.

"It's disheartening," Mr. Faque said of his office's lack of legal authority at the Blackfeet Nation. "I don't think I'll see it solved in my lifetime."

Addiction and a jurisdictional morass are only two of the problems associated with the expanding drug trade. Corruption is another.

At the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, a tribal court judge was one of 25 people arrested last May as part of a drug ring accused of moving, over a seven-year period, 30 pounds of methamphetamine, worth more than $1 million, as well as painkillers and marijuana into and through the reservation, said Matthew H. Mead, the United States attorney in Wyoming.

The tribal judge, Lynda Munnell Noah, the sister of one of the drug ring's leaders, was accused of threatening to assault and murder a Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement officer, prosecutors said. About half of those arrested have pleaded guilty so far; the judge has pleaded not guilty and is expected to go to trial soon.

At the Red Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota, four former tribal law enforcement officials and the nation's current chairman said in interviews that internal tribal politics and resistance among court and police employees had created enormous obstacles to ridding the reservation of cocaine traffickers.

Investigators say four or five tribal families are controlling the drug trade, most of it in partnership with drug gangs from Minneapolis.

Mr. Martel, the former senior police investigator at Red Lake, which gained widespread attention last March when a teenager killed nine people and himself at the reservation's high school, said he was fired after three years on the force because he clashed with tribal leaders when he tried to investigate suspects. While the federal government and not the state has jurisdiction over Red Lake, tribal detectives like Mr. Martel are typically the first to investigate criminals and to notify federal prosecutors.

Mr. Martel's partner, Russ Thomas, who resigned in October, said Red Lake police dispatchers "would narc us out," or alert suspects to criminal investigations.

Eventually, Mr. Thomas said, he and Mr. Martel stopped telling others in the police department whom they were investigating, worked their cases at night instead of during the day so they would not be spotted as easily, and changed cars often.

"We quit using our own people," he said. "We were doing our job with our hands tied behind our backs."

Tim Savior, who served only three months as the Red Lake police chief before the Tribal Council voted him out in January, said he, too, felt that drug-fighting efforts were thwarted by lower-level officials in the courts and police department with support from tribal politicians.

"I was trying to hold people accountable for their duties and responsibilities in the department," Mr. Savior said. "Politicians are trying to control it, and without a separation of powers, law enforcement is expendable. That's why there's a tailspin on reservations — there's no stability there."

Mr. Martel accused the tribal chairman, Floyd Jourdain Jr., of pressing him to drop investigations of relatives, friends and political associates, and he contended that he was fired when he refused to back off.

But Mr. Jourdain said Mr. Martel was fired for just cause, after portraying himself as an F.B.I. agent during an investigation. Mr. Martel said he was appropriately accompanying an F.B.I. agent, which is standard protocol. The chairman also said there were numerous complaints of rudeness against Mr. Martel and that critics like him were motivated by a political "smear campaign" in advance of tribal elections in May.

Mr. Jourdain acknowledged that his reservation had a serious problem with crack cocaine dealers, but he said he had no role in allowing the drug trade to expand. The problem, he said, lies with lower-level law enforcement employees resistant to change, although he said he had no proof of any illegal action that could lead to their firing.

"I've done nothing wrong," Mr. Jourdain said. "I've followed all procedure and gone through the appropriate steps." He also said he was disheartened that Mr. Savior had been removed as police chief and had voted against the majority to keep the police chief on.

The United States attorney in Minnesota, Thomas B. Heffelfinger, whose office prosecutes major crimes on the state's reservations, said one of the reasons few drug criminals had been prosecuted at Red Lake was that the tribal leadership, citing concerns over sovereignty, had removed its two police officers, including Mr. Martel after he was fired, from a federal drug crimes task force in the area.

The tribe has yet to sign an agreement it received last fall that would put the Red Lake officers back on the task force, which Mr. Heffelfinger said would go a long way toward cracking down on the drug trade there. The agreement, he said, is "adequate" for two other Minnesota tribes, at the White Earth and Leech Lake reservations, where the federal task force's work has led to a series of arrests and prosecutions.

'The Black Hole'

In upstate New York and across the Canadian border, the roughly 11,000 Indians living here now have long dipped their hands into the rewarding till of smuggling, moving goods as varied as diapers and tobacco across this lightly patrolled frontier, 12 wide-open miles of water and land separating the two countries. Some here say that smuggling, dating back to before the days of Prohibition, is a birthright.

While much of the nation's drug enforcement effort has focused on the Mexican border, the reservation has become a pipeline for the flow of drugs and guns between Canada and the United States. In warmer weather, speedboats cruise across the St. Lawrence River, ferrying drugs south and weapons and cash north; in the winter cars and vans race over an ice bridge on the river, the authorities say.

A retired special agent here for the Border Patrol's former antismuggling unit, Edward Barrett, said that when he was working undercover along the Mexican border in Texas, a drug smuggler told him that if he could not move narcotics across the southern border, he could easily do it through Canada and "the black hole," the traffickers' nickname for the Mohawk land. "It's guaranteed to go through," he said.

On the 14,000-acre reservation, evidence of the drug trade is easily visible from the million-dollar mansions with high gates and elaborate fences that are being built in a place with an unemployment rate of about 50 percent, and where tumbledown government housing was once the common sight.

Despite the many obstacles, prosecutors have had some success in combating drug rings here. In November, Lawrence Mitchell, a member of the Mohawk tribe, pleaded guilty to orchestrating the movement of large quantities of marijuana across the United States-Canada border. Numerous times, according to his plea, Mr. Mitchell, 35, arranged for the transportation of loads averaging 50 to 100 pounds, destined for Syracuse, Utica and other parts of New York; Massachusetts; and Florida.

Prosecutors say he also laundered tens of millions of dollars in marijuana trafficking money over three years, through his construction company and car dealership. He was sentenced in November to 10 years in prison.

Mr. Mitchell — who owned two houses on the reservation, one on each side of the border, until the authorities seized the American house — earned at least $2.2 million in drug money from 2001 to 2004, investigators say, but the money trail was hard to follow.

Along with Mr. Mitchell, five other people, including a New York State Police dispatcher who was accused of tipping off Mr. Mitchell's drug runners to police presence on the border, have pleaded guilty so far in the case.

Mr. Mitchell's lawyer, Stanley Cohen of New York City, who also represented Mr. Oakes and is best known for representing terrorism suspects, said law enforcement officials had used such arrests to wrongly portray the reservation as infested with drug traffickers. And Mr. Cohen objected to investigators' contentions that his clients were involved in criminal activities that went beyond what they admitted to.

"If they had evidence of more significant or more egregious or more disturbing activity by either of these clients, they would have proved it," he said.

Meanwhile, as prosecutors say drug traffickers are doing business in Indian country at a rapidly growing pace, many tribes are responding on their own to the drug crime and addiction epidemic.

At the Mohawk Reservation, the tribe spends more than half the revenue from its casino and other enterprises — roughly $2 million annually — on border patrol and other law enforcement. Tribal leaders say they could fight the trafficking here better than outside law enforcement, given adequate resources. "We feel like that's our responsibility," said James W. Ransom, a Mohawk tribal chief. "That's our goal."

The Mohawk tribe has received $5,000 annually from the Department of Homeland Security and used the entire grant over the last two years to build a security fence around the new police headquarters, tribal officials said.

Working with stretched resources and huge barriers, many tribal detectives across Indian country say they are facing an impossible task.

"If I were a drug trafficker, I'd choose this place," said Brian Barnes, deputy chief of police for the Mohawk tribe, as he headed out on the police department's lone working speedboat to patrol the St. Lawrence River.

Gangs Hit Home

In Wisconsin, Paul DeMain, the managing editor of News From Indian Country, who is married to a member of the Lac Courte Oreilles tribe, confronted the fact that his own son and stepdaughter were initiated members of the Latin Kings. After the gang gained a foothold on the reservation in 1998, Indian criminals set up an affiliate, the Lion Tribe Set, which ran one of the largest crack-cocaine trafficking rings in the history of the state, said John W. Vaudreuil, an assistant United States attorney in Wisconsin. So far, 37 of 40 tribal members have been convicted and sentenced in the case.

Mr. DeMain took the painful step of reporting his son's activities to the authorities, he said. His son left the gang, Mr. DeMain said, but his stepdaughter is serving a 20-year sentence in federal prison.

"It requires reaching out of that little box of self-protection that the Indian community has always had," Mr. DeMain said. "A reluctance to engage in supporting the federal government, to call in outside resources."

Darrel Hillaire, chairman of the Lummi Nation in Northwest Washington, said, "We've got to step up."

"It's not the federal government's fault," Mr. Hillaire said. "It's us, the leaders. Until it becomes the No. 1 priority in Indian country, we'll continue to play this blame game, and we'll get nothing done."

Still, there is fierce debate over possible solutions: more money from the federal government for manpower, or more legal authority for tribes that insist they know better how to fight crime within their own borders. Mr. Heffelfinger, who is also the chairman of the Native American Issues Subcommittee of the nation's United States attorneys but has just announced that he is stepping down to return to private practice, acknowledged that drug crimes were "disproportionately high" on reservations.

But he said tribes with significant casino revenue now had new options for financing drug addiction recovery and law enforcement programs. Many tribes have funneled gambling and other business revenue toward those needs.

Mr. Heffelfinger described crime fighting on the Mohawk Reservation as a "success story" because of the recent partnerships between tribal, local, state, federal and Canadian law enforcement agencies, which helped lead to the arrest of traffickers like Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Oakes. But investigators vehemently disagreed that there was anything resembling a success story here.

One afternoon, tribal and county detectives were preparing to take what was their lone speedboat — they recently obtained another one confiscated from a drug trafficker — out for a patrol on the St. Lawrence River.

They tried to start the boat, but the battery was dead. They spent hours trying to drag the boat through the mud and up onto a riverbank with a pickup truck. The detectives shook their heads and said they suspected that the traffickers were crossing the river at that very moment, with loads of drugs stashed on their many speedboats.

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Timeline for Cartoon Furor
Anatomy of the Cartoon Protest Movement
Opposing Certainties Widen Gap Between West and Muslim World

By Anthony Shadid and Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, February 16, 2006; A01

BEIRUT, Feb. 15 -- It was Oct. 13 when Teguh Santosa, a 30-year-old editor with wire-rim glasses, slicked-back black hair and a stubbly beard, decided to make a point in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country. His idea was a small gesture in a broader confrontation, illustrating the power of images in shaping sentiments. He scanned a dozen cartoons published in September by a Danish newspaper that lampooned the prophet Muhammad and chose to publish the one on his news Web site that has proven the most inflammatory: the prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse.

"I wanted them to know why it was insulting," said the thickset Santosa, a Muslim who runs the widely read Rakyat Merdeka Online.

To his surprise, there was almost no reaction. A few e-mailed comments to the Web site, he said. That was all. So he republished the caricature more than a week later, on Oct. 22. Again, nothing.

"We were confused," he recalled, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. "Why aren't people reacting to this story?"

What followed was a quintessentially 21st-century battle, a conflict steeped in decades, even centuries of grievances, reshaped by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and their aftermath. A digitally interconnected world propelled it forward, as did a series of slights and missteps. And a cultural divide, at times so deep two sides cannot seemingly occupy the same space, transformed an almost incidental decision to publish a dozen cartoons on a page inside a small newspaper in Denmark into a global conflagration.

Protests have erupted in an arc stretching from Europe through Africa to East Asia and, at times, the United States. About a dozen people have died in Afghanistan; five have been killed this week in Pakistan. Muslim journalists were arrested for publishing the cartoons in Jordan, Algeria and Yemen. European countries have evacuated the staffs of embassies and nongovernmental organizations, Muslim countries have withdrawn ambassadors, and Danish exports that average more than $1 billion a year have dried up in a span of weeks.

But the scope of the fallout tells only one story. The debate over the cartoons is replete with unintended consequences, some still taking shape this week. On one side is a defense of freedom of expression, on the other an unforgivable insult to a sacred figure. In between are potentially longer-lasting repercussions: a rethinking of relations between Europe and the Muslim world, and a rare moment of empowerment among Muslims who have felt besieged. Given the moral certainty pronounced by each party, some in the middle feel forced to take sides, blurring the diversity of religious thought that might offer grounds for compromise.

In the United States and Europe, some officials have suggested that the governments of Syria and Iran, isolated abroad, have stoked the protests for internal political reasons. A few Muslim leaders have contended the controversy would have ended quickly with an apology. But the conflict illustrates a broader collision of worldviews, often fueled by feelings of Muslim weakness and injury that date back long before the cartoons were published.

"The way I see it, the war has already started," said Daii al-Islam al-Shahal, a Sunni Muslim cleric in the coastal Lebanese town of Tripoli, who helped organize protests this month against the cartoons in his home town and in Beirut. "Will it end soon, or will it come to a close only after it has completely wiped out the two sides? That is up to God."

This is the story of how it unfolded.

Denmark Challenging a Religious Taboo

In September, Flemming Rose, a tall, soft-spoken editor for the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, had an idea.

He had read that museums in Sweden and London had removed artwork that their staff members deemed offensive to Muslims. A comedian told him he would be afraid to desecrate the Koran, a reluctance he did not have about the Bible. Then he read that a Danish children's book author couldn't find illustrators willing to work under their own names to draw illustrations of Muhammad, the 7th-century prophet of Islam, for a new book on the religion.

Frustrated, Rose decided to contact 25 Danish newspaper cartoonists with a request to draw Muhammad as they saw him. A dozen responded, and his newspaper published each illustration on Sept. 30.

"We have a tradition of satire in Denmark," said Rose, 47, the paper's cultural editor, who saw it as a matter of principle. "We do the same with the royal family, politicians, anyone. In a modern secular society, nobody can impose their religious taboos in the public domain."

"We were astonished and extremely shocked," responded Ahmed Abu Laban, a prominent cleric in Denmark. Representations of the prophet are banned by most schools of Islamic thought. For the devout, even his name is rarely uttered without the phrase "Peace and God's blessings upon him." To Abu Laban, it was not just a portrayal: One cartoon pictured Muhammad with the explosive turban. Another depicted him in heaven greeting suicide bombers; in Islamic tradition, martyrs are promised sensual rewards in paradise. "Enough," Muhammad is portrayed as saying. "We've run out of virgins."

"Muslims have been stigmatized," Abu Laban said. The cartoons, he added, are "the drop that made the cup overflow."

Within a week, Abu Laban and others began organizing. He and leaders of 11 Muslim groups wrote letters to the newspaper and to the Danish culture minister. They received no immediate response. They circulated a petition and submitted 17,000 signatures to Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. They met with ambassadors from 11 Muslim countries, who asked Rasmussen for a meeting, which he declined.

"After that, we tried to figure out a way to get more voices with us and how to be heard and get respect here in Denmark," said Ahmed Akkari, 28, a Lebanese-born theological student who has emerged as a chief spokesman for the groups.

Middle East Envoys of Protest

They decided to travel to the Middle East, where anti-American sentiment has long festered over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iraq and a perceived U.S. intention to dominate the region. In recent years, surveys have shown that Muslims in the Arab world and elsewhere overwhelmingly see the U.S.-led war on terrorism as a war on Islam.

Akkari carried a 43-page dossier with photocopies of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons, along with 10 more illustrations that were published on Nov. 10 in Weekend Avisen, another Danish newspaper.

The dossier also included illustrations that depicted Muhammad as a pig and engaged in bestiality. Abu Laban and Akkari said those cartoons, and other obscene drawings of the prophet, had been mailed anonymously to Danish Muslim leaders after the controversy over the cartoons began. Critics have said the delegations deliberately inflamed the situation by passing off those cartoons as the ones published by Jyllands-Posten. Akkari and Abu Laban said those drawings were never represented as having appeared in the newspaper. Rather, they said they were included to illustrate what they called anger and prejudice against Muslims in Denmark.

"Freedom of expression without limits is like a car without brakes," Akkari said.

A delegation of five Danish Muslims went to Egypt on Dec. 4 and met with Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, head of al-Azhar, one of Sunni Islam's foremost establishments; Ali Juma, the mufti, or top cleric, of Egypt; and Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League. They also met with an assistant to Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Egyptian foreign minister. Akkari said the group stayed in Egypt about a week and gave a news conference that was covered extensively in the Arabic-language media.

A second delegation of four Muslims, including Akkari, went to Lebanon on Dec. 17 and met with Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, grand mufti of Lebanon; Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, the spiritual head of the country's Shiite Muslims; and Nasrallah Sfeir, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church. The group stayed in Lebanon until Dec. 31. Akkari said he also made a day trip to Syria and gave a copy of the dossier to Sheik Ahmed Badr Eddine Hassoun, the grand mufti of Syria.

Among those they met was al-Shahal, the Lebanese cleric in Tripoli, who cringed at the sight of the pictures.

"Ugly and repugnant," he recalled thinking.

Saudi Arabia 'A Revolution Inside Me '

Over the weeks that followed those trips, the conflict germinated, sometimes by the most modern of means.

In Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Hashim Balkhy, a 43-year-old plastic surgeon who would not consider himself unduly conservative by his country's standards, heard about the cartoons on about Jan. 21. He received a text message on his cell phone from a friend in Medina, one of Islam's holiest cities, saying Danish newspapers had been making fun of the prophet for months.

We must boycott them, his friend said.

That night, after his wife and children had gone to bed, he spent almost four hours online, smoking Carlton cigarettes and reading Web sites. He discovered that within weeks, an entire virtual world had already been dedicated to the subject. He stayed up past dawn.

A few days later, he got an e-mail from a Yahoo discussion group called al-Bostan, which published the cartoons. His eyes wandered over the photos until he got to one portraying the prophet wearing a turban as a bomb. He stared at it.

"They don't know our prophet," he recalled thinking. "And they can't get away with this."

Balkhy was already upset with the West. The photos of torture by members of the U.S. military at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq had outraged him. He was bitter at American support for Israel. He had already stopped drinking Pepsi and Coke, as a symbolic gesture. But the victims in those cases were people -- Palestinians and Iraqis -- and this was the most pure man we know, Balkhy said.

"A revolution inside me started," he said.

He found that the most informative Web sites were the most religiously rigid. In the past, he had recoiled at some of their views, but he now came to rely on them for help in what had become a personal campaign.

On one Web site, he found the e-mail addresses of Danish embassies overseas, and a form letter to them. He cut and pasted a 27-page letter, written in both Arabic and English, and sent it to the embassies. The following day he sent a shorter version of the letter to the same list as well the Norwegian newspaper Magazinet, which had republished the cartoons in January. This time it was only in English. The third day, he e-mailed the same group a copy of a letter calling for a boycott.

He sent a copy of each e-mail to a separate list of 100 people, including colleagues in Egypt and Lebanon. Some he knew from training in Canada, others he met at conferences in the region. In the past, the list was often used to send jokes. This time, his messages encouraged those on the list to boycott Danish goods and, like him, write letters of protest to Danish diplomats, journalists and businessmen.

He joined what had become a virtual sphere of activism, with themes repeated from London to Jakarta, Indonesia. Its speed and scope were unprecedented; to him, it was empowering. As Balkhy sent his e-mails, thousands of others were circulating as well. Dozens of Web sites were set up. Among them was . Text messages beeped on cell phones: "Danish papers are making fun of our prophet," read one. "Boycott their products." Supermarkets in Saudi Arabia began pulling Danish goods from their shelves, and Saudi companies published advertisements citing their support for the boycott. The kingdom recalled its ambassador to Denmark.

"We had accomplished something," Balkhy said. "Our campaign was working."

Denmark Stopping Short of an Apology

By Jan. 30, intense pressure had built on Rasmussen, a tough-talking farmer's son, and the editors at the Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Protesters in Muslim countries were burning Danish flags. The economic boycott that started in Saudi Arabia had nearly shut down sales of Danish cheese, butter and other products in the Muslim world. On that day, a Monday, Rasmussen expressed his first public criticism of the cartoons.

"I personally have such respect for people's religious feelings that I personally would not have depicted Muhammad, Jesus or other religious figures in such a manner that would offend other people," Rasmussen told Danish television. He stopped short of the apology demanded by Muslim leaders, saying he could not apologize for what was printed in a newspaper exercising free speech.

At about the same time, Carsten Juste, editor in chief of Jyllands-Posten, posted a similar statement. "In our opinion, the 12 drawings were not intended to be offensive, nor were they at variance with Danish law, but they have indisputably offended many Muslims, for which we apologize," he wrote.

Al-Shahal, the Lebanese cleric, watched Rasmussen's remarks on al-Jazeera satellite television. So did Balkhy, on both al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya, another Arabic-language satellite network. Both felt the same way. "Truthfully, it wasn't a real apology, in the precise meaning of the word," al-Shahal said. Balkhy was blunter: Rasmussen had "tried to weasel out of an apology."

Berlin A Free Expression Paradox

In Berlin, Roger Koppel, editor of Die Welt newspaper, saw the apologies by Rasmussen and Juste as an alarming defeat for Europe's tradition of free speech. The next day, Tuesday, Jan. 31, he met with his editorial team and ordered up a front-page story on the issue, including a reproduction of the cartoon of Muhammad with the bomb in his turban positioned at the top of Page One. At least six other European papers did the same, sharply increasing anger in the Muslim world about how the dispute was being handled.

"This had now become a huge political story," Koppel said. "In a secular Western society, a prime minister and a newspaper had to issue an apology for exercising their right to satire."

Koppel said he found many of the cartoons "ridiculous," but the quality of the images wasn't the point.

"You don't deliberately stir up religious hatred, but, sorry, we live in a secular country in the West," he said. "It's part of our culture. It's just not possible that our culture gets somehow penalized by threats."

It is illegal in Germany -- and punishable by prison time -- to make statements denying or questioning the existence of the Holocaust. It is also a crime to make "patently false statements" about the Holocaust, such as minimizing the number of victims. Some Muslims have argued that such laws constitute a double standard: in the West it's fine, they argue, to denigrate Muslims, but not Jews.

"It's not a double standard because it's the right of every culture to have its own taboos," Koppel said.

Koppel said that given Germany's painful history with the Nazis and the Holocaust, German society had chosen to establish certain limits on free speech. He said people in Germany must abide by those laws, just as people in Muslim countries must abide by the laws and traditions of those lands. He said a newspaper publishing the Muhammad cartoons in a Muslim country should expect to be punished, while a newspaper publishing them in Germany should expect to be protected by German guarantees of free speech.

In Milan, Gianni Riotta, deputy editor of the Corriere della Sera newspaper, was framing it in a different way.

While defending Jyllands-Posten's right to publish, he said the Danish newspaper made a mistake in judgment by running all 12 cartoons, which he said carried the implication that "all Muslims are terrorists." Riotta said it reminded him of his days studying at Columbia University in New York under famed American television news producer Fred Friendly. He recalled Friendly telling the class, "Shouting fire in a crowded theater is not freedom of expression, it's being stupid."

Riotta had in mind publishing something with what he thought was a clearer perspective. The Corriere, one of Italy's most respected papers, ran a package of nine cartoons: three of the "least offensive" Danish cartoons, along with three anti-Semitic cartoons taken from Arab newspapers and three Nazi-era propaganda posters.

"We wanted to publish to show that these cartoons were really offensive and really racist," Riotta said. "We wanted to give our readers some perspective: This was not Salman Rushdie." Riotta said that, as a reporter, he had covered the controversy over Rushdie's novel, "The Satanic Verses," and that he believed the Danish cartoons could not be considered in the same literary league with Rushdie's book.

Muslim World Building Solidarity

Republishing the cartoons unleashed a torrent of response.

Governments were already taking action: Interior ministers from 17 Arab nations called on the Danish government to punish the Jyllands-Posten newspaper. The Saudi interior minister urged the other nations to recall their ambassadors from Denmark. Protesters burned a large photo of Prime Minister Rasmussen outside the U.N. compound in Gaza City, scenes repeated elsewhere in Muslim countries. Algeria and Yemen, among others, were calling for U.N. action against Denmark.

In Indonesia, Santosa, the Web site editor, decided to publish one of the cartoons yet again.

"But then after I published the picture, a lot of Muslim people got angry at me. Then I said, 'Oh my God, what happened?" He put the cartoon up at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 2. He pulled it down less than 12 hours later.

In time, editors in Algeria, Yemen and Jordan were arrested for publishing the cartoons, often to bring attention to the offense.

Some of the region's most influential leaders weighed in.

Fadlallah, the senior Lebanese Shiite cleric, dismissed defending the cartoons under the principle of freedom of expression. Why, then, were some European networks banning al-Manar, the television station of Lebanon's Hezbollah group, on the grounds that it incited people? Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, a leading Sunni Muslim scholar, called on Muslims to use the dispute to strengthen solidarity. "The whole nation must be angry and rise up to show their anger," he said. "We are not a nation of donkeys. We are a nation of lions."

Protests erupted the next day, Feb. 3, after Friday prayers in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Palestinian territories and Iraq. They would be dwarfed by the scenes that unfolded that weekend in Lebanon and Syria.
Feb. 4

Middle East 'Defending the Prophet'

For days in Damascus, diplomats had heard about protests planned for Saturday. In the streets, there were posters of a Danish flag with a red X across it. Text messages went out on Friday, their source unclear: "Join us in defending our prophet and what is sacred." It added, "What are you going to do in order to answer to your prophet in the afterlife?"

The Norwegian and Danish embassies requested extra security, the diplomats said, but received none.

The protesters gathered on Feb. 4 carrying Syrian flags and banners calling on the Danish ambassador to leave the country. They tore down the flags hanging on the building. Soon, people began throwing rocks and gasoline bombs. Diplomats said they saw what appeared to be Syrian intelligence agents in the crowd. Before dusk, the Danish Embassy was ablaze, and other protesters went to the Norwegian Embassy, burning it as well. Another crowd went to the French Embassy, but was driven back by water hoses.

Ammar Sahloul, a wealthy businessman, heard about the demonstration through text messages, canceled work on Saturday and went with nearly 60 of his employees. He said he reached the Danish Embassy's doors and tried to calm things down, in vain.

"I wanted to express our resentment in the way that the prophet taught us," said Sahloul, 40. "He would not have wanted things to happen the way they happened outside the embassies."

That day, typewritten leaflets were circulating in neighboring Lebanon, calling for another demonstration in Beirut on Sunday. "They have declared war," it read. "So for the victory of our Prophet, we must accept the challenge." The 1,000 leaflets were issued by the Salafi Group in Lebanon, headed by al-Shahal, who first met the Danish delegation in December.

Hundreds boarded buses in Tripoli, flying green-and-black banners with white Islamic inscriptions from the windows. They passed at least seven army checkpoints on the way to Beirut unhindered. In time, thousands gathered in the Lebanese capital, some rampaging through a Christian neighborhood and setting fire to the building that housed the Danish Embassy. Al-Shahal, carrying a loudspeaker, said he was among the clerics who tried to restrain the crowd.

"The truth? I felt sorry when I saw it," he said. "The protest should have demonstrated strength, but with wisdom."

A day later, in Afghanistan, protesters chanting anti-American slogans tried to storm the U.S. air base in Bagram. Afghan security forces fired on the crowd, killing at least three people. More protests followed in other Afghan cities, the grievances multiplying and mixing. In all, about 12 people were killed. Unlike in Lebanon and Syria, calls were passed not by technology, but word of mouth. Few had seen the cartoons, but they had become the topic of Friday sermons there, each retelling tinged with another exaggeration.

"I haven't seen the cartoon itself, but I was told that our prophet has a hand grenade on his turban and each of his fingers, too," said Haji Mohammed Rafiq Shahir, head of a council of professionals in the western Afghan city of Herat.
This Week

Beirut Silencing Voices of Moderation

Amira el-Solh, 28, is a Lebanese Palestinian who lives in Beirut. She had heard about a text message calling for the protest in Lebanon. She, too, was angry about the caricatures, but recalled thinking that the Lebanese have greater worries today.

"Ten minutes of thought," she said she gave it.

The next day, as the protests raged in Beirut, she stayed glued to the television: Lebanese channels, CNN and the BBC. She talked to friends in Beirut, in Europe and the United States. At night, she met with friends, all disgusted with the way things had turned out.

But as she looks back at the dispute -- from the repeated publishing of the cartoons, to the protests, to the violence that pulled at Lebanon's frayed sectarian tapestry, to the moral certainty infusing the debate -- she sees the controversy as less about a dozen cartoons and more about a sense of siege in the Muslim world that forces everyone to take sides. "It's upsetting that you have to defend your identity as a Muslim constantly," she said.

She thought back to other divides in history -- the Green Line that partitioned civil war-era Beirut, the Iron Curtain, the Berlin Wall. She resented having to qualify herself as liberal or conservative, secular or religious. She worried that, in time, those definitions might become irrelevant. Perhaps they already have.

"These walls weren't so long ago," she said. "It was people who built them, and it will be people who will resurrect them."

"Do you want to silence voices of moderation, of coexistence?" she asked this week. "And this is what the generalizations of these cartoons do. It silences any individual as a Muslim and groups me along with everyone else."
© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Sunday, February 12, 2006

How do we explain Homicide OVer Trivial

The New York Times

February 12, 2006
Violent Crime Rising Sharply in Some Cities

MILWAUKEE — One woman here killed a friend after they argued over a brown silk dress. A man killed a neighbor whose 10-year-old son had mistakenly used his dish soap. Two men argued over a cellphone, and pulling out their guns, the police say, killed a 13-year-old girl in the crossfire.

While violent crime has been at historic lows nationwide and in cities like New York, Miami and Los Angeles, it is rising sharply here and in many other places across the country.

And while such crime in the 1990's was characterized by battles over gangs and drug turf, the police say the current rise in homicides has been set off by something more bewildering: petty disputes that hardly seem the stuff of fistfights, much less gunfire or stabbings.

Suspects tell the police they killed someone who "disrespected" them or a family member, or someone who was "mean mugging" them, which the police loosely translate as giving a dirty look. And more weapons are on the streets, giving people a way to act on their anger.

Police Chief Nannette H. Hegerty of Milwaukee calls it "the rage thing."

"We're seeing a very angry population, and they don't go to fists anymore, they go right to guns," she said. "A police department can have an effect on drugs or gangs. But two people arguing in a home, how does the police department go in and stop that?"

Here in Milwaukee, where homicides jumped from 88 in 2004 to 122 last year, the number classified as arguments rose to 45 from 17, making up by far the largest category of killings, as gang and drug murders declined.

In Houston, where homicides rose 24 percent last year, disputes were by far the largest category, 113 out of 336 killings. Officials were alarmed by the increase in murders well before Hurricane Katrina swelled the city's population by 150,000 people in September; the police say 18 homicides were related to evacuees.

In Philadelphia, where 380 homicides made 2005 the deadliest year since 1997, 208 were disputes; drug-related killings, which accounted for about 40 percent of homicides during the high-crime period of the early 1990's, accounted for just 13 percent.

"When we ask, 'Why did you shoot this guy?' it's, 'He bumped into me,' 'He looked at my girl the wrong way,' " said Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson of Philadelphia. "It's not like they're riding around doing drive-by shootings. It's arguments — stupid arguments over stupid things."

The police say the suspects and the victims tend to be black, young — midteens to mid-20's — and have previous criminal records. They tend to know each other. Several cities said that domestic violence had also risen. And the murders tend to be limited to particular neighborhoods. Downtown Milwaukee has not had a homicide in about five years, but in largely black neighborhoods on the north side, murders rose from 57 in 2004 to 94 last year.

"We're not talking about a city, we're talking about this subpopulation, that's what drives everything," said David M. Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. "When they calm down, all the numbers go down. When they heat up, all the numbers go up. They hurt each other over personal stuff. It's respect and disrespect, and it's girls."

While arguments have always made up a large number of homicides, the police say the trigger point now comes faster.

"Traditionally, you could see the beef growing and maybe hitting the volatile point," said Daniel Coleman, the commander of the homicide unit in Boston. "Now we see these things, they're flashes, they're very unpredictable. Even five years ago, in what started as a fight or dispute, maybe you'd have a knife shown. Now it's an automatic default to a firearm."

In robberies, Milwaukee's Chief Hegerty said, "even after the person gives up, the guy with the gun shoots him anyway. We didn't have as much of that before."

Homicide rates are driven by different factors in each city, but even cities whose rates have fallen have seen problems with disputes, though those disputes are often about drugs or gangs. "As the murder universe continues to shrink in New York, the common denominators remain consistent," said Police Department Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne. "In most instances, killers and victims knew each other, each had criminal records, and they were engaged in disputes, usually over narcotics."

Nationally, the homicide rate peaked in 1991, declined steadily after 1993 and has remained essentially flat since 1999. But in the first six months of 2005, according to preliminary statistics from the F.B.I., the number of homicides nationwide rose 2.1 percent, with the greatest increase, 4.9 percent, in the Midwest.

Yet many cities have seen far steeper increases. In Boston and San Francisco the number of homicides last year was at its highest in a decade, and in Prince George's County, Md., outside Washington, it was the highest ever.

In St. Louis, the number of homicides rose to 131 last year from 113 in 2004. Tulsa had 64 murders, 2 more than in 1993. Charlotte jumped from a record low of 60 homicides in 2004 to 85 in 2005. And the murder rate for 2005 was above the 15-year average in Kansas City, Mo., and Nashville.

A large part of the problem, the police say, is simply more guns on the streets as gun laws have loosened around the country. In Philadelphia, Commissioner Johnson said, since the state made it easier to get a gun permit in 1985, the number of people authorized to carry a gun in the city has risen from 700 to 32,000.

But the police also blame lax sentences and judges who they say let suspects out on bail too easily. Here, Deputy Chief Brian O'Keefe recalled a man who was released from prison on an armed robbery conviction after two years, with five years' probation, and killed someone within three months. In Nashville, Chief Ronal W. Serpas recalled an 18-year-old who had been arrested 41 times but was out on bail when he killed a bystander in a fight over a dice game.

"We have people who've done two, three, four, five shootings who are back on the streets," said Kathleen M. O'Toole, Boston's police commissioner. "Unless we have bail reform, unless these impact players with multiple gun arrests are kept off the streets, we won't reverse this problem."

Still, some of the problems are hard to address with tougher laws.

The neighborhoods with the most murders tend to be the poorest. In Milwaukee, Mallory O'Brien, an epidemiologist brought in to direct the new homicide review commission, said suspects and victims tend to have been born to teenage mothers. The city has one of the nation's highest teen pregnancy rates for blacks, and among black men, one of the lowest high school graduation rates. An industrial base that used to provide jobs for those without a high school diploma has shrunk.

Chief Corwin of Kansas City said that in the hardest-hit neighborhoods, people had explained it as a "lack of hope." "If I don't have skills, I don't have training, my socioeconomic situation looks desperate, do I really have hope?" he said. "I think that ties into the anger. If the only thing I have is my respect, that's what I carry on the street. If someone disrespects me, they've done the ultimate to me."

Those who study crime debate whether the cities where homicide is rising represent a trend.

"It's a couple of cities with bad luck and with local problems which are very real, but not necessarily part of a national pattern," said Franklin E. Zimring, a law professor at Berkeley who is writing a book on the crime drop of the late 1990's.

But Mr. Kennedy, at John Jay, said the decrease in homicides in big cities has obscured the problem in many other places.

"In many places — both cities and increasingly suburban and rural settings — things never got as good as they did nationally," he said. "Even if things got better, they didn't get as better as they did in Los Angeles or New York. In many places, they're getting worse."

Certainly, the number of homicides is lower than its peak in the early 90's — Milwaukee had 168 killings, not including Jeffrey Dahmer's serial murders, in 1991. But the number is far higher than in recent years, and alarming to a public that has gotten used to good news. Boston, which peaked with 151 murders in 1990, had declined to 31 in 1999. Nashville in 2004 had its lowest homicide rate in the history of city government, with 58 murders, before jumping to 99 last year.

"Because for this decade the sense is that crime is down, it's very hard to speak out about it and not look as though you're doing something wrong," said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a research and public policy group in Washington. "People's expectation of crime has significantly changed."

In some of the cities, overall crime has declined, thanks to a significant drop in property crimes. But the rise in homicides and robberies causes alarm.

"It's hard for people to look at it in depth and understand that they're not likely to be a victim if they get along with their family members and neighbors and don't live a high-risk lifestyle," said Darrel Stephens, the police chief in Charlotte.

Cities say they are going after illegal guns and are trying to stop disputes from becoming homicides. Kansas City used to investigate only some aggravated assaults; now it follows up on all cases, on the theory that next time, the assault might be a homicide. Boston and Philadelphia are sweeping neighborhoods for people who have violated warrants. In St. Louis, the police have put cameras in high-crime neighborhoods and have sent gang units to talk to parents of chronically truant students.

But recognizing that the problems have deep roots, cities are also going beyond traditional law enforcement, trying to involve churches, schools and social service agencies. In Boston, the neighborhood sweeps are followed by work crews that repair potholes, trim trees and remove graffiti.

Here in Milwaukee, the police are tagging "M.V.P.'s," or major violent players — people with several arrests, who are more likely to be involved in arguments and homicides, according to Ms. O'Brien's analysis. Those names are announced at daily police briefings.

The city has also put prosecutors and probation and parole officers on patrol with police officers, because they have more immediate power to rein in chronic offenders by enforcing curfew, nuisance laws, and restrictions against alcohol or drug use and association with gang members.

The homicide review commission has frequent, formal meetings with corrections officers, prosecutors and social service agencies to identify problem families, and is meeting with schools to assess what they are teaching about conflict resolution and how to reduce truancy.

Next month, police officials say, they will have the first of several town hall meetings with the neighborhoods with the highest homicide rates, to get residents' ideas on how to stop the killings.

"We didn't get here in a day," said Ms. O'Brien, the epidemiologist. "There's no simple solution."

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

Do We still look at male and female criminals differently

The New York Times

February 12, 2006
City Lore
Armed and Adorable

THERE isn't any bobbed-haired bandit," Mayor John Hylan announced when pressed about the female crime wave of 1924. "That's only a myth."

Despite the largest man (or woman) hunt in the New York Police Department's history, the stylish, bobbed-haired young woman who had been sticking up shops and leaving taunting notes was still at large, and the press was attacking the mayor and his police commissioner, Richard Enright, for their helplessness. How could the police end this "carnival of crime" if they couldn't even stop a girl bandit?

The city had experienced at least three crime waves since the end of the Great War, and the question of who was responsible was hotly debated. Some New Yorkers blamed the hardened young men who had returned from the trenches of France, rough-minded doughboys with automatics and few prospects. Others saw the rash of holdups as a side effect of prosperity and the new hunger for easy money and consumer goods.

Perhaps it was modernity itself, some suggested: too much science and not enough religion, a crisis of faith and a lack of respect for authority. Yet another suspected culprit was Prohibition, which had made breaking the law an everyday occurrence for half of the population and a cause of deep concern for the other half.

For Mayor Hylan, the problem of crime was a problem with the newspapers. In the mid-20's, New York City was served by 11 dailies, and 4 others concentrated on Brooklyn, and the business was undergoing a transformation. The rise of the newspaper chain and the photo tabloid, the competition from radio and an increasing concern with the bottom line pitted paper against paper in a white-hot circulation battle for the eyes and nickels of New Yorkers.

Then, as now, crime — especially crime with a sexy angle — sold papers. Responding to the growing chorus of his critics, Mr. Hylan accused the newspapers of making up the latest crime wave and its star performer to increase their circulation and embarrass his administration.

In one sense, the mayor was wrong. The Bobbed-Haired Bandit was a real flesh-and-blood woman, a unprepossessing-looking 19-year-old ex-laundress from Brooklyn named Celia Cooney. Celia and her husband, Ed, had begun their criminal career a few days into 1924 by robbing a small grocery on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope on a frigid Saturday night. No one was killed, but everyone was amazed by the appearance of girl with a gun. Though it was a minor crime by New York standards, a woman with a gun was man-bites-dog news.

When she robbed on the next Saturday and again the next week, the Bobbed-Haired Bandit was born. Bobbed hair was her defining characteristic, but her accessories were also described in detail: she wore a sealskin coat, wielded a baby automatic, drove a powerful automobile, and came equipped with a tall, dark male accomplice and distinctly unfeminine patter. "Another peep out of either of you and you'll stop gassin' for ever," the "gunmiss" announced to a stunned shopkeeper and his elderly mother; at least that's how a reporter put it.

New Yorkers were worried about more than the actual stick-'em-ups, which to be honest were not all that devastating; they were worried about what these crimes meant in the larger scheme of things. Women had won the vote only four years earlier, and the public was confused and concerned about the character of the modern woman. The flapper, with her bobbed hair, pert profile, lithe figure and devil-may-care attitude, was a stand-in for the woman problem and the immorality of the younger generation. Women voting and smoking, drinking and driving fast, cutting their hair? Bobbed-haired banditry seemed a troublesome sign of things to come.

In the wake of the Bobbed-Haired Bandit's exploits, any bobbed head involved in a crime made the papers. The estimable Zelda Fitzgerald was questioned one night on the Queensborough Bridge on suspicion of being the bandit, and a string of fashionably coiffed girls were jailed in the dragnet. Several transvestites were hauled in for questioning, raising the awkward question: Was the bandit really a woman?

Some commentators refused to believe that a woman was capable of such criminal bravado. Others saw in the Bobbed-Haired Bandit a kind of feminist hero, emblematic of a wider revolt against tradition.

When it was revealed that Celia Cooney was not only a woman but pregnant, another theory surfaced: it was the most natural of female conditions that explained this unnaturally strong-willed woman. Psychiatrists, preachers, politicians and police officers, journalists like Ring Lardner and Walter Lippmann, society ladies and members of the "criminal underground" all offered their opinions as "The Mystery of the Bobbed-Haired Bandit" was deliberated endlessly in the city's newspapers.

CELIA COONEY made her own contribution to the debate, leaving notes needling the police with lines lifted straight from the True Detective magazines she consumed voraciously. "You dirty fish peddling bums," one began, concluding with "we defy you fellows to catch us." In a 12-part serial that ran later in the Hearst newspapers, she spun out a softer, melodramatic tale of a poor housewife, newly married and expecting a child, who wanted the life she saw in shop windows and on the silver screen but couldn't afford on working-class wages. (Especially when still paying for a sealskin coat bought on the installment plan.)

Eventually Celia and Ed Cooney were caught. After a last, botched stickup, they fled to Jacksonville, Fla., where their newborn daughter died in a filthy rooming house. The grieving couple were turned in to the police by the undertaker who buried the baby. Extradited back to New York, they were greeted at Penn Station by a crowd of thousands who wanted a look at the infamous bandit. A diminutive dark-haired girl, scarcely more than five feet tall, stepped off the train, looking both scared and thrilled by all the attention.

She served seven years in prison and died in Florida in 1992.

To some New Yorkers, Celia Cooney was a simply a criminal, symptomatic of a nation that had lost its respect for law and order. To others, she was the unfortunate product of a society in which dreams of material plenty existed alongside the reality of long hours and low wages. She was both a desperate mother who stole for the sake of her unborn child and a selfish, thrill-seeking flapper, a disturbing sign of the erosion of traditional submissive femininity and a modern girl with pluck, flair and nerve. She was all these things because New Yorkers needed something, someone, to help them puzzle through a difficult era of shifting norms and values.

Paradoxically, it may have been Mayor Hylan who came closest to understanding the reality of the Bobbed-Haired Bandit. She was a myth.

Stephen Duncombe and Andrew Mattson are the authors of "The Bobbed Haired Bandit: A True Story of Crime and Celebrity in 1920s New York," to be published this monthby New York University Press.

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

French Legal System Under Attack

I am a Scapegoat for Sexual Abuse Scandal

A young magistrate with the face and haircut of a boy scout became the focus of nationwide attention in France today as he defended his role in a pedophile case that has turned into one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in recent French history.
France’s main television channels scrapped their usual afternoon programs to show Judge Fabrice Burgaud’s appearance in front of a parliamentary committee inquiring into the affair that has shaken the country’s Napoleonic legal system to its core.
"I do not pretend to have carried out my investigation perfectly," he said. "Could I have acted differently? With the benefit of hindsight, certainly. Did I make mistakes? Probably. Who does not? What examining magistrate does not?"
The 34-year-old judge has come to symbolize the failings of French criminal justice after leading the investigation into what he mistakenly thought was a vicious child abuse network in Outreau near Calais in northern France.
The case echoes the Cleveland scandal in Britain, when 121 children were removed from their families in 1987.
In his first posting after leaving the French National School for Magistrates, Judge Burgaud imprisoned 18 people, including a bailiff, a taxi driver, a bakery owner and a priest, on suspicion of sexual assault amid claims of orgies, bestiality and bodies buried in a Belgian farmyard.
But three years later, 13 of the defendants were acquitted when it became clear the supposed pedophile ring had never existed.
‘L’affaire Outreau’ was in fact a sordid but minor case involving two couples. The child abuse network had been invented by a deeply disturbed child unable to distinguish fact from fiction after being raped by his mother and father.
One defendant, François Mourmand, whose innocence was later demonstrated, committed suicide in jail. Another, Alain Marécaux, tried to take his life last month, but was saved.
In a personal letter of apology to the families, President Chirac described the affair as a "disaster" for French justice.
Described by his critics as arrogant and inflexible, Judge Burgaud has received hate-mail and death threats following the appeal hearing last year.
But today he looked frail, pale and unsure of himself as he sat in front of the committee at the French National Assembly in a grey suit and blue tie.
"I am terribly shocked to have been presented as a machine who applies the law without humanity," he said in a hesitant voice. "I am not the person who has been described by some of the people who have given evidence here."
But he added: "I believe I carried out my work honestly."
He denied accusations he had carried out a biased investigation, eliminating evidence favorable to the defendants and manipulating witnesses to support the charge of child abuse.
Judge Burgaud said his work had been checked and approved by other magistrates, lending weight to claims that he has become the scapegoat for a wider failure that demands a radical overhaul of the French legal system.
After M Burgaud's testimony in Parliament will be several of the 13 victims in the Outreau case, who have accused the magistrate of being naively fixated on their guilt, failing to listen to arguments in their defense and abusing his power under the judicial system.

Examining magistrates are called in when prosecutors decide that a crime has been committed and needs investigation. Their broad powers allow them to order police raids, call on expert witnesses and question witnesses and suspects as they decide whether a prosecution is warranted.
But under the Napoleonic Code, the examining magistrates act as both prosecutors and defenders - they are meant to uncover evidence not just of guilt but of innocence and to weigh both up as they recommend charges. The Outreau victims say that was not the case with M Burgaud.
One former suspect said that he spent 11 months behind bars before being granted access to a lawyer. Others complained of being slapped, threatened with violence or forced to stand up during police questioning.
The MPs' remit is to consider the implications of the case for France's legal system but already one of the country's best known investigating magistrates has called for major reforms.
Renaud van Ruymbeke, who specializes in financial cases and led investigations into the brother of Osama Bin Laden and into the US oil services company Halliburton, said "we have to start over again with our system" and called for a British or American model where judges are neutral arbiters of guilt.
"Why? Because an investigating judge wears a double hat - both an investigator and an arbitrator," M van Ruymbeke told Le Monde last month.