Wednesday, October 9, 2013
THE PERILS OF LIVING TWO LIVES
Marauding bikers surround SUV on Henry Hudson Parkway on
September 29, 2013.
TAGS: NYC BIKERS ASSAULT SUV, NYC ANNUAL BIKERS RALLY, ALEXIAN LEIN,
REGINALD CHANCE ARRESTED, UNDERCOVER NYPD DETECTIVE WOJCIECH BRASZCZOK
ARRESTED AND CHARGED, NYPD UNDERCOVER OPERATIONS, STING OPERATIONS
(Wednesday October 9, 2013, One Police Plaza, NYC) The video images of a marauding band of motorcyclists literally seizing control of the northbound lanes of the Henry Hudson parkway were disturbing enough. These bikers rode as an unruly mob on two wheelers, four wheelers, dirt bikes and ATV without regard for speed, lane demarcations or public safety. They were just a rolling mob breaking numerous traffic laws and jeopardizing every other vehicle they encountered. Video from on biker’s helmet cam shows one of the other bikers coming to a stop directly in front of a range Rover which they had surrounded several miles back. As some of the bikers dismounted and approached the SUV where 33 year old Alexian Lein was driving with his wife and two year daughter aboard, they began pounding on the SUV’s windows and managed to drag Mr. Lein out of the vehicle. He quickly was able to pull away before they had extracted him completely. He saw his only way out was to move ahead. After all, he and his family were trapped by a mob bent on menace and violence. To make his escape he drove over the biker who had caused him to come to a halt. Upwards of 47 other bikers then began pursuit of Mr. Lein and caught up with him in snarled traffic on 178th Street in Washington Heights. It was there that they did pull him from his vehicle after smashing the windows in with their helmets. Fortunately Mr. Lein, his wife and his daughter were not seriously injured. The biker Mr. Lein drove over, Edwin Mieses Jr., suffered a broken spine, fractured ribs, a punctured lung and a torn aortic valve according to reports. As of this time 4 arrests have been made in this disturbing case of semi-organized mayhem, intimidation, and wanton aggression.
The focus in the press has been diverted from the attack and the alleged perpetrators to the now confirmed presence of an off-duty undercover NYPD Detective. The Detective, Wojciech Braszczok, was arrested at his home last night for his alleged participation in the events on Sunday September 29. Based on video evidence from various sources it is not readily apparent what role Detective Braszczok played in the actual physical assault of Mr. Lein. Braszczok did not report to his superiors that he’d been a rider among that unruly mob until last Wednesday, three days after the fact. There are reports simmering in the background that there may have been other members of NYPD participating in the annual bikers rally and ride. While many questions remain unanswered and the Internal Affairs Division (IAD) of the NYPD is currently conducting an investigation into the role Braszczok may or may not have played as well as the possibility that other members (MOS) of the NYPD were present or involved.
UNDER COVER: ATOP A TIGHTROPE
To the uninitiated being “undercover” is very much misunderstood. In some respect many Police Officers and other Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) have many misconceptions of what it is like to actually live a life undercover. It is nothing like working “in plain clothes” as in anti-crime and street crime details or other assignments that require regularly uniformed Officers to more easily blend into a crowd. An undercover assignment requires a host of abilities not the least of which are courage, intelligence, street smarts, quick thinking, and the ability to assimilate and process situational awareness and data rapidly. Those among the Law Enforcement Community (LEC) who are or have worked undercover are a unique breed; a high level of commitment, sacrifice and mission are requisites for such an assignment and, the fact of the matter is, not everyone who seeks such an assignment is qualified or deemed suitable for it. The undercover Officer who is not so possessed of these traits and abilities will not be undercover very long. The threat of exposure often means a death warrant for the “made” undercover. The price to pay is steep indeed and while every LEO faces the possibility of death every time they go to work, the undercover Officer’s risk is exponentially higher. Despite this stark fact there are currently dozens of men and women of the NYPD involved in “deep cover” operation throughout the five Boroughs. They often work with minimal backup or support; if anything, such luxuries are reserved for the time when they have taken months or years to build a case and are about ready to make arrests. Living under such omnipresent tension breeds a healthy amount of paranoia but also can take a heavy toll on the Officer’s personal and family life. Yet, like every other high risk Unit in the NYPD there is never a lack of MOS willing to step up and take on the unique challenges of a specialized Unit be it Emergency Services (ESU), Bomb Squad, Counterterrorism, Intelligence, or Narcotics.
Regularly we’ll read in the New York Times and Daily News about a “sting” operation that netted a large cache of drugs, guns, or interdicted the plans of people bent on perpetrating terrorist activities in our City. The past decade has seen a number of Officers working stings murdered in cold blood. The men and women who voluntarily take on such assignments are among the finest of The Finest.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT VERSUS SELF ENDANGERMENT
Some of the rules, the standard operating procedures as defined in the NYPD Patrol Guide do not apply universally to undercover Officers. Situational circumstances, the scale and scope of the investigation and the role that each member of an undercover team or unit play must be and are taken into consideration. No, they are not above and beyond the law and the accepted practices of their uniformed colleagues but often they find themselves enmeshed in scenarios where they must walk up to but not over that fine, delicate line of criminality. For the sake of argument let’s, for the time being, extend the benefit of the doubt to Detective Braszczok. Perhaps he felt compelled to maintain his cover and, in order to not rouse suspicion; he struck the Mr. Lein’s SUV and then sped away on his motorcycle. There are no allegations that he actually struck any of the occupants of the vehicle; his “crime” if any do not include assault. This is not to make excuses for him or to belittle the fact that he took three days to report his involvement in this incident to his superiors.
At this time we are not privy to some of the most fundamental facts related to this case. Even though Detective Braszczok was “off duty” is it not reasonable to consider that his participation in this biker rally was part and parcel of a wider investigation, that his presence in this unruly mob lent him an additional layer of credibility with the other bikers? Can we imagine the peril he may have put himself and his family in had he waded into this foray and identified himself as a Police Officer? The rush to judgment in this case is surprising and not only based on a scant amount of information at this but also uncharacteristic of the solidarity MOs of NYPD historically provide each other. Perhaps because most Police Officers are unfamiliar with the hazards and stress of working undercover it is easy for them to intemperate Detective Braszczok’s actions through the prism of the NYPD Police Academy training, The Patrol Guide and their own experiences.
As one retired NYPD Detective recently wrote (prior to the event under discussion here), “As an undercover NYPD Detective I was tasked with many responsibilities. I didn’t go to work out of normal law enforcement agencies or buildings. I didn’t carry police ID and never conducted normal police work. I never arrested anyone. I spent my days and nights in the streets, buying mainly narcotics and firearms.
I infiltrated organizations and gathered intelligence as well as conducting transactions of all types. I worked cold case homicides. Most cases were long term and usually involved wiretaps and federal agencies.
My safety depended on how well I assimilated the role of a criminal. It’s a thin line between assimilating and becoming one. It’s nothing like you have seen in any movie or TV show. That lifestyle eats you up from the inside. It’s not easy but easily addicting. Others have been murdered doing what I did. It was a reality you lived with every day, every minute of an operation. I paid the price, sometimes with blood and pain. Even my family paid, many times without even knowing why. (http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1mslml/iama_retired_undercover_nypd_detective_ive_spent/)
A DEVIL’S ADVOCATE
Perhaps the only role the independent freelance writer/blogger can play in controversial cases such as this is that of the Devil’s Advocate, a counterpoint to what is reported as truth in the mainstream media. Certainly there are many in our City who gleefully stomps on the men and women of the NYPD at every opportunity, they never pass up a chance to grandstand, lambast, and rabble rouse. Perhaps we’ve not seen this case rise to that crest yet but, before all is said and done, before all the truths are assembled, it probably will.
Who knows? Maybe Detective Braszczok will be exposed as a dirty Cop, as a dishonest Cop involved in criminal conduct having violated not only specific law but his oath of Office. Yes, that may be the case. However, on a cautionary note we ought not to be so eager to write the next chapter in this already ugly story, we should not render judgment without as many facts at our disposal as become available. If it becomes clear that Braszczok walked to close to the edge, played with fire in his undercover life he will certainly not be the first UC to do so. But until such time let us afford him the opportunity to be presumed innocent in the allegations that are enveloping him and his family today. It might be too much of a stretch for some but it is at least worth making an effort to stretch.
Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2013 © All Rights Reserved
Monday, October 7, 2013
HOW SO FEW CAN HARM SO MANY
Ruthless recalcitrant Republicans bring our federal government to a halt.
What is their endgame? They have none.
TAGS: FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN, REPUBLICAN SHUTDOWN,
USELESS CONGRESS, PARTISAN DIVIDE, “DEFUND” OBABACARE,
GOP DESPERATE MEASURES, THE WORLD IS WATCHING,
SHUTDOWN THREATENS NATIONAL SECURITY
(Monday October 7, 2013 Washington, DC) Oh how our Republican politicians in Congress, Governor’s mansions, state legislations and town halls, love to boast and brag about “American Exceptionalism”. They pound their chests, rattle their sabers and demand respect from the rest of the world, a world they seem to largely look down on with derision and disgust. All those huddled masses of black and brown people, Muslims, Hindus, Africans, Asians, Mexicans; Godless pagans all; just looking for a hand out, a leg up, a chance to poke the old US of A in the eye. What a miserable lot our rock ribbed, red state Republicans are forced to share our Country and world with. They can barely tolerate the existence of the United Nations, NATO, international laws, conventions, treaties and tariffs to say nothing about voters’ rights and equality right here on our own front porches. Yes indeed, why must these patriots even have to acknowledge the mindless flocks of leftists, communists, socialists, fascists, tree hugging, navel gazing, and bleeding heart liberals? No wonder they are so determined to slash and burn their way towards obstructing every legislative measure they deem unconstitutional. They toss such terms around with little to no understanding of what they’re saying and they certainly count on the American public to be equally lacking in understanding.
America has been exceptional since she declared independence from the yoke of the United Kingdom in 1776. In so many ways this on-going experiment in a constitutional Republic, a sovereign self-governing Democracy, has stood the test of time through both good times and bad. The values and rights that have made us exceptional made us the envy of the world and a destination for so many seeking better lives, lives free of oppression and struggle.
But now the world is puzzled by America; they do not understand how a nation as great and powerful as ours is can be driven to a partisan political impasse that has essentially shutdown our federal government. Yes, some of the parliamentary intricacies and procedural nuances are not even fully understood by the majority of Americans (but that is a discussion for another time) much less people in other countries. What the world has come to admire and respect about America are all the fundamental morals and virtues laid down by our Founders in The Bill of Rights and Constitution and how they have served us well for over two centuries. However it would be ignorant, even arrogant, to deny that America’s reputation has suffered in the eyes of the world over the last 12 years. Sure, the self-righteous Republicans don’t care how the wider world, other countries be them friend or foe, look at us. Who cares, they exclaim, what all those unwashed louts think about us? We emerged victorious and prosperous as the lone “super power” once the Cold War died off. We have been a global force for good and always beneficent as victors in every war we fought. Until recently, that is.
And here is where we begin to glimpse the jagged edge of a growing dilemma. We have seen our credibility and moral certitude rigorously tested after our righteous military campaign drove the Taliban and Al Qeada from Afghanistan in December 2001. The world observed as a unilateral American approach as dictated by the Cheney / Bush Administration was cast on the fly without a breath of reason or pause for appraisal. The world was shaken when that Administration launched a completely pre-emptive war of choice in Iraq and had no plans for what would happen once the Hussein regime was toppled. Even our “allies”, such as they were, eventually awoke to the stark reality that Cheney and Bush had contrived a cluster of falsehoods and lies and used deception and cherry picking of intelligence to support their bogus claims that Iraq was an imminent threat to the United States. The world’s cohesiveness and order has been terribly stressed and strained by their bastardized version of Pax Americana that came into existence in 2003. But, as the GOP will tell you, who really cares? We are the big dog on the global stage and you are either with us or against us.
Now we are demonstrating to the world a side of our political personality that they may not have appreciated before. They see our Democracy stalled by a Gordian Knot of epic proportions, a knot that it took a small number of our elected official in Congress to create. It is becoming increasingly difficult to fly the flag of our exceptionalism while petty partisan brinkmanship domestically is already causing a ripple effect through the world’s economy. The world looks at the stalemate in Washington DC, a Congress and President seemingly having each other locked in some odd ideological headlock whereas ideology has nothing to do with the Republican shutdown. Even member of their own caucus become bumbling, bumbling idiots when they are pressed to explain the purpose behind the shutdown.
Since early in the 1990’s our economy, the largest in the world, has become ever more symbiotically linked to a global economy that is so interconnected that the faintest cool breeze that wafts through our Capitol and markets is felt the world over and in true accordance with chaos theory, that simple breeze may trigger a tornado somewhere around the world and the situation will escalate until there is a full blown fiscal economic breakdown of immense proportions. The very real possibility of many countries that were only recently recovering from economic woes will find themselves, once again, facing market meltdowns and investors anarchy. Global trade and commerce are always tenuously balanced and what the Republicans are doing to our economy and standing might result in a global fiscal crisis. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is at stake and the GOP either is so steeped in their own blinding barrage of bullshit or they truly are as crass and shallow as they appear. Whatever it is their maneuvering has lit the fuse on a global economic bomb that, if it is detonated, will create cracks and fissures that will devour much of our domestic economy as well as a huge portion of the world’s would slide rapidly into the abyss.
But that is not OUR problem, so say the Republicans who see themselves as divinely inspired stalwarts standing between our greatness and a chaotic messy world. Rather than actually legislate the fundamentals of a functional government, they’d rather tie social issues, ones that have long ago been adjudicated and declared constitutional, to every piece of legislation that somehow manages to slither out of the House, a House of Representatives that is nothing more than a den of corrupted vipers. They are more focused and intent on disenfranchising voters, trying mightily to undo two national elections by making efforts to delegitimize our twice elected President, and otherwise be as obstructive and demagogic as they can be. They “play to their base” in all matters large and small but in reality have much of their base bamboozled. They do not actually serve the bloc of voters they embrace as their base; they prey off ignorance and fears, false threats and the phony agendas of “others”, you know, like the Blacks and Hispanics, and basically anyone who is not a White male over 32 years old.
We live in interesting times; we, as a nation and society have lumbered into an America so vastly different than it was just 30 years ago that the concepts we were taught in civics classes in the 1960’s seem archaic and moribund; without relevance to this day, this time. That is more than a shame. While change is inevitable, divorce from our most closely held principles is not change worthy of our history.
Our governance and politics are inexorably twinned. This twisted state of affairs was distinctly not what our Founders envisioned when they crafted our tripartite Republic. They wisely installed a system of checks and balances into our governing and never could have foreseen just how divisive and damaging their masterful creation could devolve into a blueprint for gridlock. But, of course, they never could have imagined the quality of Congress members we have today. Long gone are the statesman and compromisers; it has been many years since we’ve seen any sincerity in our Congress or any hint of bipartisan desires aimed towards a greater good. We the people have become mere spectators, even hostages in a way, to a hideous side show of geeks and freaks protected by incumbency and bought by special interests to further the good of the influential and select.
The main battle cry for the GOP as reason de jour to shut down the government is their ridiculous desire to defund “Obamacare”, their derisive label for the Affordable Care Act which was passed by both Houses of Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2009. It has since weathered legal challenges all the way to the United States Supreme Court and has emerged as a constitutional law of the land. The American public twice had the opportunity to votes against it by casting their presidential votes for Barack Obama’s opponents, John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. They did not; by virtual landslides they did not. Their votes are the expressed will of the people and it is beyond comprehension why Republicans have chosen tactics and strategies doomed to fail. Their war against all they see as crafted by the evil design of an un-American President is doomed to fail yet they draw on seemingly endless reserves of idiocy, craven self-interest, and a host of despicable blowhards spouting outright lies and truly doing criminal disservice to their constituents and the country as a whole. Yes, how the world is mocking us now.
As long as this government shutdown drags on our national security will suffer and that alone is why this state of affairs is not only potentially increasing the possibilities of a terrorist event but daily eroding our stature in the eyes of those nations seeking to do us harm. Furthermore, since so much of our economy is intimately linked to nations that do not always act in our favor, they may emerge as time goes on as having a greater amount of leverage in such vital relationships like trade, commerce and fiscal policy. A quick scan of headlines from around the world clearly demonstrates that to friend and foe alike this current state of shutdown leaves us vulnerable and easy prey to the economic whims and commercial intentions of some of our biggest trading partners such as China. Since so much of our national debt is held by countries like China and Saudi Arabia there may come a time when they begin to flex their economic muscles to bend trade and international monetary policy in their favor. These are not merely remote threats, they are very real possibilities. The world will not sit idly by while the larges economic engine on the planet is literally in the grasp of a handful of Republican megalomaniacs, extremists, hate-mongers, and delusional pirates holding our ship of state under a black flag. AS more and more services are cut and federal employees in the FBI, CIA, NSA and all other agencies are furloughed home to wait out this malignant charade, terrorist, know to exploit even the slightest crack in security will have greater opportunities to slip through the slimmest of creases and deliver their brand of retribution to us.
As disgraceful as it is to realize the eyes of the world are looking down on our dysfunctional government and lack of unity, direction and purpose, it is even more sobering to know who else is out there smelling the faintest whiff of weakness. The Republicans are doing the work of terrorist from inside the system; their irresponsible shutdown increases the threat level a bit more with each passing day.
Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2013 © All Rights Reserved