Tag Archives: TalkLeft

Making of a Terrorist Part II

Another month, another terror prosecution.  This one involves Najibullah Zazi, his father Mohammed, and an imam, Ahmad Wais Afzail.  Prosecutors are alleging in characteristically vague fashion that the Zazis had plans to execute a London-style bombing of mass transit vehicles in New York and perhaps elsewhere.  Two of the more notable pieces of evidence that have been recovered from the Zazis are a scale (yikes!) and bomb-making notes (double yikes!).  The legal blogosphere has been abuzz about the decision of the younger Zazi to speak to the Feds which ultimately netted him several false statement charges.  No surprise there.  Even though his attorney, Arthur Folsom, has had minimal federal criminal defense experience, he should have known better.  At the very least, he could have conducted his own investigation to see what information the Feds might have had (yes, he’d probably have a hard time doing this, you know, state secrets, FISA, all that) on Zazi before serving his client up on a platter as he did.  Mr. Afzail, in contrast, is being represented by Ron Kuby, a well-known criminal defense and civil rights attorney in New York who’s clients in a quasi-partnership with William Kunstler, included Colin Ferguson (LIRR shooter), Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, and other unsavory characters.

TalkLeft has great coverage of the Zazi matter.  It’s author is a criminal defense lawyer based in Denver, where the Zazi’s are currently being held and will eventually be prosecuted.

Thinning The Thin Blue Line

TalkLeft picked up an interesting post over at the Dallas Morning News’ Crime blog on police corruption.  It relates to a recent story where a Dallas police officer “doused” a man with pepper spray in what appeared to be a fit of rage and when confronted about the incident by superiors claimed that the spray canister had “malfunctioned.”  The truth did not come to light until a rookie officer belatedly blew the whistle on the spray-happy officer.

In analyzing why the rookie officer failed to immediately report the incident – his excuse was fear of retaliation –  the blog post  distinguished between two types of police corruption: “noble cause corruption” and “bad corruption.”  Quoting a police misconduct expert:

“Bad corruption” would be something like taking a bribe or robbing a drug dealer, and they would not hesitate to report such criminal behavior.

The line gets blurry when dealing with so-called “noble cause corruption” — the idea that police are at war and the ends justifies the means, i.e. raiding a drug house without having probable cause to do so or roughing up a gang member.

It’s in those cases that officers often suddenly get the “I didn’t see or hear anything” syndrome.

As with anything else, once an officer crosses that line, it’s a slippery slope to doing something far worse.

At the risk of starting a chicken-or-the-egg debate, I wonder whether noble cause corruption will actually result in more crime.  It is true that the tactics employed in situations of noble cause corruption will free an officer from the restraints, i.e., search or arrest warrants, that might otherwise prevent him from catching a suspect.  And in the short run that may mean higher arrest rates and good PR for the police department.  But in the long run, such corruption will almost certainly turn the community against the police, whose reaction to the unjust treatment will be more crime.