What Fresh Hell Is This?

July 15, 2009

Fact-Checking The Trib. Again.

In an editorial today, the editorial board at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review writes:

Attorney General Eric Holder has renewed rattling his saber about investigating the Bush administration's torture policy. Whether that's a trial balloon, as even some Democrats suggest, is not clear. But in any event, it's actually Mr. Holder who should be the subject of an investigation.

In a stunning move, Holder's Justice Department decided not to pursue the most serious charges against members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. They were accused of intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place on Nov. 4, 2008.

The editorial quotes from this piece in the Hill:
It shows two Black Panthers "standing 10 to 15 feet from the polling station. The two men are seen standing shoulder to shoulder, dressed in black military-style uniforms, black berets and combat boots," reminds reporter Molly K. Hooper, writing in The Hill newspaper.
And here's what it leaves out of Hooper's reporting. After pointing out that "key House Republicans are charging Holder with "playing politics" at the Justice Department (they're making that charge now?) Hooper writes:
A spokeswoman for Justice said facts did not back up the charges, and that career officials at Justice, not political appointees, decided to drop the charges.

“Following a thorough review, a career attorney in the Civil Rights Division determined that the facts and the law did not support pursuing the claims against three of the defendants,” spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said. “As a result, the Department dismissed those claims.”

Committee sources said they expected Justice to send a letter on Monday to Wolf and other members, and to brief Republicans on why the charges were dropped.

Holder let stand one of the four original charges though. The leader of the black nationalist group’s Philadelphia chapter, Minister King Samir Shabazz, is charged with brandishing a “deadly weapon,” a nightstick, outside of the polls.

As a result, he was punished with not being able to brandish a weapon within 100 ft. of a polling station in Philadelphia until after the 2012 elections. [emphasis added.]
I am sure that last part is going to send the wingnuts into fits of apoplexy. As a punishment it feels a bit light to me, but I'm not a lawyer.

By the way, there's some contemporaneous reporting about the "incident" over at Talkingpoingsmemo. Did you know that the police were called? Here's how Josh Marshall writes it. This was posted on election day at 3:04 pm:
[Obama campaign volunteer Jacqueline] Dischell confirms that there were in fact two black panthers guarding the polling place, a nursing home on Fairmont Avenue in north Philadelphia, earlier this morning.

But she says one was an officially designated poll watcher (it was not immediately clear which municipal office had designated him in that role), and the second was his friend. The second panther, who left two or three hours ago, was the one with the nightstick, she says.

Dischell says that earlier this morning a few men who identified themselves as being from the McCain campaign came and started taking pictures of the two panthers on their cell phones. She suggested that they seemed to be baiting the panthers, and that the designated watcher may have given one of them the finger in response to the picture taking.

The police came roughly an hour and a half later. She says she talked to the cops and told them there had been no incident. The police drove away without getting out of the car, she adds.

Some time later, a second, larger group of men whose affiliation couldn't be determined came with real cameras and started taking more pictures. Maybe 15 minutes later the cops returned. This time, they spoke to people on both sides, and told the panther not designated to watch the polls to leave, which he did without an argument.
Bottom line, the guy with the nightstick was asked to leave by the cops and he did. And if what Marshall is reporting is true, that was about 1pm on election day. But really, he probably shouldn't have had the nightstick.

Yea, that's just as serious as torture. Just as serious.

Of course the Trib doesn't bother to tell you this:
Fliers warning that people with outstanding warrants or unpaid parking tickets could be arrested if they show up at the polls on election day appeared recently in predominantly African-American neighborhoods of Philadelphia.
Since it doesn't involve Black Panthers (or their night sticks) I guess it doesn't warrant a mention by Dickie's gang.

Here's the video if you wanted to see it.


EdHeath said...

This is getting to be a standard tactic with Conservatives/Republicans. Accuse the accuser with bogus charges. Two Black Panthers at one polling place? One polling place? We're not stupid, we know that Republicans attempt to suppress voting among minority populations constantly (hence their never ending attack on ACORN). The Congress tries to move forward on a carbon bill, and the Trib trots out one person in the EPA who disagrees, and proclaims all Democrats hypocrites. Well, since the banks appear to already be up to their old tricks again, the Republicans may lose traction for the midterms if (a) the Republicans continue to invoke the Free Market as our only savior and (b) the government has to step in again and slap the banks down for shady practices.

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