June 16th, 2017

Security for members of Congress

When Representative Scalise was shot, the only reason many more people weren’t hurt and perhaps killed was that there were armed guards around who killed the would-be assassin. And the only reason there were armed guards around was that Scalise is House Majority Whip:

The only members of Congress who have security are those in leadership in both houses, which amounts to a handful of members. Surely, this type of security is expensive. It is, at some level, unnecessary. Most members of Congress have never had a serious, credible threat issued against them.

But many of us remember the assassination attempt on former Rep. Gabby Giffords in Tucson in January 2011. The Arizona Democrat survived being shot in the head in that attack, when six people were killed.

A 2011 Congressional Research Service report lists nine members of Congress who have been shot and 24 members of Congress who have been attacked since 1789.

I can think of three of those shootings without even looking it up. One is Gabby Giffords, who was nearly killed by Jared Loughner (as part of a massacre in which others were killed, but she was the target) and still is brain-damaged as a result. One was Leo Ryan, murdered in 1978 by members of the Jim Jones cult shortly before the mass murder/suicide. And one was the 1954 Capitol incident:

The United States Capitol shooting incident of 1954 was an attack on March 1, 1954, by four Puerto Rican nationalists; they shot 30 rounds from semi-automatic pistols from the Ladies’ Gallery (a balcony for visitors) of the House of Representatives chamber in the United States Capitol. They wanted to highlight their desire for Puerto Rican independence from US rule.

The nationalists, identified as Lolita Lebrón, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Andres Figueroa Cordero, and Irvin Flores Rodríguez, unfurled a Puerto Rican flag and began shooting at Representatives in the 83rd Congress, who were debating an immigration bill. Five Representatives were wounded, one seriously, but all recovered. The assailants were arrested, tried and convicted in federal court, and given long sentences, effectively life imprisonment.

How many people today are aware of that little piece of history?

I was. But I had forgotten this addendum:

In 1978 and 1979, they were pardoned by President Jimmy Carter; all four returned to Puerto Rico.

That seems unconscionable to me.

You can read about their happy homecoming here:

Thousands of screaming Puerto Ricans tore down fences and surged against police lines today to greet four terrorist heroes of the nationalist movement returning to Puerto Rico after a quarter century in U.S. prisons.

The four, who were freed on Monday, wept as they embraced relatives and friends on arrival at San Juan Airport. Supporters, estimated at about 6,000 strong, madly waved a sea of flags and banners near a makeshift speakers’ platform, shouting, “Viva Puerto Rico libre” and “Jibaros si, Yanquis no.” Jibaros are native Puerto Ricans.

Their loudest cries were “Lolita! Lolita,” for the still-fiery Lolita Lebron, 59, the leader of a group that shot up the House of Representatives in 1954, wounding five congressmen. “You must know the facts,” she shouted at the crowd, her voice hoarse from two days of speeches. “The United States will repress anyone that tries to assert their birthright on nationhood.” The crowd roared its agreement.

Oscar Collazo, 67, who tried to assassinate President Truman in 1950, told the people to ignore the tears on his face. “I am so happy to be in a place where I am not afraid to express my emotions,” he said.

Why did Carter pardon the perpetrators? He did it against the wishes of Puerto Rico’s governor, by the way, who “stat[ed] that it would encourage terrorism and undermine public safety.” Well, yes. The reasons Carter gave for ordering the release was that they had served more time already than people who had committed similar offenses. Really? How does one define “similar”? I would say that an ordinary shooting is different from assassination attempts on public officials, committed by opening fire in the Capitol itself.

Carter also cited that “release of these four prisoners would be a significant humanitarian gesture and would be viewed as such by much of the international community.”

About that, I could not give a rat’s ass.

20 Responses to “Security for members of Congress”

  1. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Carter was such a loony that, even as president, he needed the ego boost from being a “humanitarian”. It never occurred to him that mercy to the evil is cruelty to the innocent.
    Or it it did, it was a price we had to pay. IOW, he was also hard-nosed. Another virtue signal.
    And “we” means “somebody I never heard of.”

  2. parker Says:

    Jimmy was and remains a naive fool. Fortunately for his ‘legacy’, obama now ranks as the worst POTUS.

  3. Griffin Says:

    The fact that any President would release someone who had tried to kill a predecessor is beyond ridiculous. Collazo and his partner actually killed a Capitol Police officer named leslie Coffeldt in their attempt on Truman. That took place while the Trumans were living at Blair House while the White House was being renovated and Truman was taking his afternoon nap when the attack occurred. Prior to that incident Truman used to take a morning walk most days through the streets of DC with his relatively small security detail. Can you imagine Trump going for a walk on a public street in our current world?

  4. parker Says:

    I do not want one thin dime of my taxes spent on protecting politicians who want to take away my firearms. They need to beg their big donors to fund their security details. I am sure all the liberal billionaires will be happy to do so for a few special favors.

  5. AesopFan Says:

    parker Says:
    June 16th, 2017 at 2:51 pm
    I do not want one thin dime of my taxes spent on protecting politicians who want to take away my firearms. They need to beg their big donors to fund their security details. I am sure all the liberal billionaires will be happy to do so for a few special favors.
    * * *
    Just what we need: private armies.
    You can all figure out what this leads to without me triggering the Godwin Maxim.
    PS – nobody is gunning down gun-grabbers.

  6. AesopFan Says:

    The more I learn about Carter the less I like him, and he started out in the hole.

  7. TommyJay Says:

    This 1954 example and Carter’s pardon make an excellent case for the death penalty. The more you learn about Carter’s presidency the more his Marxist &/or “Bolivarian Revolutionary” tendencies become clear.

    I do think that Congress should take more security cautions. While B. DeVoss has some super expensive security detail, I don’t see why more use can’t be made of off-duty police officers (failing on-duty) at very modest cost.

    Additionally, I think all of the political security details should make a point to tote at least one AR-15, similar to what we have seen in Paris and Belgium.

  8. parker Says:

    AesopFan,

    Feel free to fund armed security for the likes of Maxine Waters or Hank guam tipping over Johnson. And keep your hand out of my pockets while you donate.

    I am responsible for the security of me and mine. Anti 2nd politicians should likewise be responsible for their security. But not on my dime.

  9. Bill Says:

    The nut job who shot up the congressional baseball practice ended up getting shot himself.

    Our Congress people, rightly, have protection. I don’t begrudge them that.

    But it’s sad that others are not so protected, and don’t even receive justice after they are gunned down

    Yes, it’s happened once again. The officer who gunned down Philando Castile has been aquitted. Castile is the one who got shot multiple times in his car by an officer while on a traffic stop, with his girlfriend and daughter right there in the car. He had just explained to the cop that he was carrying a gun which he had a license to carry.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/philando-castile-case-verdict-jeronimo-yanez/

  10. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Bill,

    That case is not nearly as clear cut as your source CBS makes it out to be.

    For more objective reportage read this; “Philando Castile’s “C-grip” was for his gun, not seat belt, expert testifies”

    IMO, there was more than reasonable doubt as to Officer Yanez’s guilt, when you realize that Castile told the officer that he was armed but did not first inform Officer Yanez that he had a permit.

    The officer repeatedly told him not to reach for the gun, yet Castile kept reaching back telling the officer that he was reaching for his wallet.

    Since the Officer believed that Castile somewhat fit the description of an armed robbery suspect and clearly indicated that he believed that Castile was reaching for his gun… was Officer Yanez supposed to wait until either the wallet or the barrel of a pointed gun appeared?

    Pulled over by a cop pointing a gun at you, wouldn’t you stop reaching, when the officer who is pointing a gun at you indicates he isn’t confident that you’re reaching for a wallet?

    How many dead cops have died trusting that a criminal is actually an innocent person?

    Castile had been pulled over 52 times for traffic violations in 14 years. So he certainly was familiar with the routine. He knew how to conduct himself. But he was a fan of the BLM movement, indicated on social media a confrontational attitude toward the police and had high levels of THP in his bloodstream, which probably affected his judgement.

    Yes, this is a tragedy but given the climate cops must endure today, the officer acted understandably. If cops have to be perfect at all times, prepare yourself for the consequence, frequent and personal confrontations with the barbarians. Cops are keeping them at bay, so we can live our peaceful, privileged lives.

  11. Bill Says:

    GB,

    “Sir, I do have to tell you have I have a firearm on me.”

    I have no doubt Yanez was scared. But your description of him having already drawn his gun when he was telling Castile to not reach for his gun/wallet – does the evidence support that?

    Or does it support a panicked drawing and panicked shooting multiple rounds into a guy in a defenseless position because he “looked” like a criminal and made Yanez feel twitchy?

    A couple of the bullets, according to the article you linked, almost hit Castile’s girlfriend and little daughter.

    Panic.

    If cops have to be perfect at all times, prepare yourself for the consequence, frequent and personal confrontations with the barbarians

    Was Castile a “barbarian”? Did he have to be perfect? It sounds like he was doing what his concealed carry training taught him. He just didn’t do it “perfectly”. So he’s dead. Because he looked like a criminal. I wonder why?

    Cops are keeping them at bay, so we can live our peaceful, privileged lives.

    And you gotta break a few eggs if you want to make an omelet?

    As someone said on twitter today : “The government having the power to kill innocent people with no consequences should be the most offensive thing to a conservative.”

    I’m going to pass right over your mention of “our” privilege. I didn’t know you realized that was a thing.

    Neo – I know this convo is only tangentially related to your post. I’m so frustrated and it seemed related at the time… Apologies

  12. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Bill,

    Yes, Officer Yanez pulled his gun as soon as Castile said he had a gun without first telling Yanez that he had a CCP which reportedly he never did before being shot.

    So, Castile says he has a gun and then reaches back, Yanez tells him not to reach for it and Castile says that he’s reaching for his wallet and Yanez once again tells him not to reach for the gun. But Castile keeps reaching back. Why should Yanez accept that Castile is not reaching for his gun? Upon what basis is there for assuming that Castile is an honest, innocent person? Especially as Castile is ignoring Yanez’s indication that he thinks Castile is reaching for his gun?

    Cops are trained to keep shooting until the threat is absolutely neutralized. Only in the movies does a cop remain completely cool in facing what he believes to be potentially a mortal threat. Sure he was nervous even possibly scared, he was potentially moments from death.

    Former police officer and police use-of-force expert Joseph Dutton testified, answering “that Yanez used “due caution” to avoid injury to the two passengers in the car — Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her 4-year-old daughter — when he stepped to the left of the vehicle and pointed his gun downward before firing.”

    “Confirmed – Philando Castile Was an Armed Robbery Suspect”

    “Was Castile a “barbarian”? Did he have to be perfect? It sounds like he was doing what his concealed carry training taught him. He just didn’t do it “perfectly”. So he’s dead. Because he looked like a criminal. I wonder why?”

    Let me help you with that.

    Every criminal is by definition a ‘barbarian’. If a cop thinks he may be dealing with a criminal, then he has to assume that he may be confronted with the behavior of an uncivilized barbarian.

    No Castile was NOT following his training.

    “The instructor at the gun range in Ramsey where Castile took his permit-to-carry safety class also testified Thursday.

    James Diehl said he teaches students that, when they’re pulled over by police, first to tell officers they have a permit to carry. Then they should say they have a firearm on them, Diehl said. He said he also tells them to follow all police commands while keeping their hands visible.

    “Why is that?” Gray asked.

    “Mentioning you have a firearm before you say you have a permit could affect the officer’s (mind-set),” Diehl said.”

    Castile is dead because he didn’t follow the police officers commands. Again, the officer repeatedly told him not to reach for the gun, yet Castile kept reaching back telling the officer that he was reaching for his wallet.

    You’re asserting that Yanez should have just taken Castile word for it and risked his life while confronting an armed robbery suspect who fit the description and was NOT following directions.

    Again, since the Officer clearly indicated that he believed that Castile was reaching for his gun… wouldn’t you stop reaching, when the officer who is pointing a gun at you indicates he isn’t confident that you’re reaching for a wallet? Come on. You know you’d raise your hands and ask the cop what he wanted you to do.

    It wasn’t primarily that he looked like a criminal, it was because he was doing just what a criminal does (distract the officer to buy the time needed) when going for his gun.

    “And you gotta break a few eggs if you want to make an omelet?”

    Accidents happen. We do not live in a perfect world so the question is, did the cop follow procedure? Yes, he did and had Castile followed the cop’s directions he’d be alive. No mention of questionable prior behavior by this cop.

    The issue isn’t whether cops can kill innocent people without consequence. No one supports that. The issue is did the cop follow procedure and was this death preventable? Yes, he did and yes it was preventable but by Castile NOT Officer Yanez.

    Take away cops ability to kill and you end up having to fight the barbarians yourself. Hang cops for reacting imperfectly when a split second decision must be made and you neuter the cops.

    Neuter the cops and the stronger will take all that you have. There’s a reason why they call it “the thin blue line”. Your unreasonable political correctness will cost innocent lives. And before you offer the drivel that innocent black lives are being lost, FBI statistics report that cops kill a higher percentage of whites than blacks while killing a statistically minuscule amount of Asians. Follow the damn rules and 98% of these killings stop.

  13. parker Says:

    Oh give me AFB. I have an inherit human right, as a free sovereign human being to be armed whevever I may wonder in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. I DON’T NEED A F÷=_KING PERMIT issued by bureaucrats. It is my right by virtue of my birth to be free and to possess the tools to defend me and mine.

  14. parker Says:

    GB,

    Good response to Bill. Bill, I think you mean well, but you IMO mean well stupidly. There0 is no meet in the middle with the lef4.

  15. Bill Says:

    Thanks GB and Parker. A few more comments.

    Parker – I am not looking at this as a left versus right thing. It really bothers me that it seems now everything is reduced to tribal terms.

    GB – Statistics are fun. Here’s a Daily Wire article that also debunks the idea that more blacks than whites get shot by the police, in agreement with you.

    http://www.dailywire.com/news/7264/5-statistics-you-need-know-about-cops-killing-aaron-bandler

    It talks about raw percentages, in which whites are indeed shot more, and then debunks its own statistics by admitting that blacks are a much smaller portion of the population so as a proportion of the proportion they are shot more often. But they commit more crimes, so….

    Also, there’s an alarming statistic in this pro cop article that an unarmed black person is SIX TIMES more likely to be shot than an unarmed white person. That’s the statistic I’m focused on. Six times! They admit the statistic is accurate and then proceed to hem and haw about it. I guess in the end they come to the conclusion that unarmed African American men just deserve it.

    Look, I know this isn’t a simple subject. The shootings are not all the same. I had a lot more sympathy for the shooter in the Trayvon Martin case, or even the cop in the Michael Brown case. I know there are generational catastrophes in the black community (in particular fatherlessness). Those issue feed the cycle of crime and poverty and I don’t envy the cops who have to deal with it. I’m sick of the Democratic party who I think have exploited the black vote while giving them very little (or worse) in return.

    But the left/right tribalism on this subject where most politically activated conservatives won’t even give the benefit of the doubt to the victim for fear of scoring points for the left, who scream “all lives matter!” to a grieving black community that just wonders if their lives matter. Of course all lives matter. But does Philando Castile’s life matter?

    We freak out when an illegal immigrant commits a crime or murders someone. Rightfully so. A cop kills an innocent black man and we stumble all over ourselves defending the cop. They couldn’t even get an involuntary manslaughter conviction. Unbelievable.

    Because of the tribal response, I wonder if it would be different if African Americans voted overwhelmingly Republican. Would that change the response?

  16. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Bill,

    “But does Philando Castile’s life matter?

    …A cop kills an innocent black man and we stumble all over ourselves defending the cop. They couldn’t even get an involuntary manslaughter conviction. Unbelievable.”

    You keep missing the issue. Evidently, Philando Castile didn’t put much value on his own life because he didn’t follow the cops directions when the cop had a friggin gun pointed at him! That is the issue. Philando Castile’s behavior.

    If the cop had NOT followed procedure AND Castile HAD followed directions AND the cop killed him, I for one would unhesitatingly condemn the cop. But that’s NOT what happened.

    And that’s WHY they couldn’t get a conviction for ANYTHING. A tragedy happened because Philando Castile at best (we don’t know that he wasn’t reaching for his gun*) acted stupidly and in the situation he was in, his stupidity was fatal. Since the cop followed procedure we can’t say he panicked or that being scared was a definitive factor. We can say that Philando Castile acting as he did directly led to his death. Period.

    As for, “I wonder if it would be different if African Americans voted overwhelmingly Republican. Would that change the response?”

    That’s Bullpucky and the proof is that Asians are being shot far less than any other group and commit crimes far less than any group. AND they do NOT vote Republican either.

    * there was a very close resemblance between Castile and the robber in the video. Castile was pulled over close to the scene of the robbery. Castile’s gun bears a close resemblance to the gun being held by the robber in the video footage. Carton’s of Newport cigarettes were stolen in the robbery and more coincidence, a day after Castile’s death, his girlfriend is interviewed while smoking holding a pack of Newports. Finally, the girlfriend was unbelievably calm in her video with zero concern shown for her daughter and for her dying boyfriend. All of this is coincidental but added up it strains credulity.

  17. DNW Says:

    A sensitive conservative writes,

    ” … it’s happened once again. The officer who gunned down Philando Castile has been aquitted. Castile is the one who got shot multiple times in his car by an officer while on a traffic stop, with his girlfriend and daughter right there in the car. He had just explained to the cop that he was carrying a gun which he had a license to carry. ”

    “… your description of him having already drawn his gun when he was telling Castile to not reach for his gun/wallet – does the evidence support that?”

    In the quotes above, the sensitive conservative makes two significant claims which he appears to believe support a stance of moral indignation.

    1, ” … He had just explained to the cop that he was carrying a gun which he had a license to carry.”

    The meaning of this sentence is somewhat ambiguous. If the sentence phrase, “which he had a license to carry” is merely intended to parenthetically note that Castile had been issued a license, then it is accurate enough.

    However, if the phrase “which he had a license to carry” is intended reproduce the information Castile conveyed to the officer, then it is false.

    “”The squad-car video shows Yanez approaching Castile’s car and asking for a driver’s license and proof of insurance. Castile appears to give something to Yanez through the driver’s side window. Castile is then heard saying, “Sir, I have to tell you, I do have a firearm on me.”

    There is no real-time event recording of Castile informing the officer that he, Castile, had a carry permit.

    That information is only recorded in the statements of the “girlfriend”; a recording which she began moments after the officer had already shot Castile.

    2, The sensitive conservative also asks, ” … your description of him having already drawn his gun when he was telling Castile to not reach for his gun/wallet – does the evidence support that?”

    Well, the very cite which the sensitive conservative implies he had just read, says, in effect, “yes”.

    “Before Castile finishes that sentence, Yanez has his hand on his own gun and is pulling it out of the holster. There is shouting, and Yanez screams “Don’t pull it out!” before he fires seven shots into the car. “

    If someone is really interested in trying to tease out the actual facts rather than waving a bloody shirt, they might do well to visit the following web sites of a local newspaper and review the coverage. Assuming that is, that even then they are capable of keeping a timeline straight and sorting out “she said” quotes, from quotes that were actually derived from recorded real-time media.

    http://www.twincities.com/2017/06/08/philando-castile-police-shooting-yanez-trial-where-gun-was-found/

    http://www.twincities.com/2017/06/09/i-did-not-want-to-shoot-mr-castile-at-all-yanez-says-in-emotional-testimony/?obref=obinsite

  18. Bill Says:

    “That’s Bullpucky and the proof is that Asians are being shot far less than any other group and commit crimes far less than any group. AND they do NOT vote Republican either.”

    GB – you missed my point. I’m not saying he was shot because he (probably) doesn’t vote Republican. I’m saying that if he was in a group on the right, your reaction might be different, because then he would be on *your* team.

    The officer in question was dismissed from his job today, btw. Take that for what it’s worth. It’s either an injustice because he’s innocent before the law, or it’s a very weak form of delayed justice because he panicked and killed a guy who didn’t deserve it.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/minnesota-officer-found-guilty-fatal-shooting-philando-castile/story?id=48003144

    We’ll never come together on this, I realize. But I also thought I’d link a Snopes article debunking the evidence you provided about him being a robbery suspect, his girlfriend smoking stolen cigarettes, etc.

    http://www.snopes.com/philando-castile-was-not-wanted-for-armed-robbery/

    Evidently, the thing that got the ball rolling on this entire sordid affair was the officer thinking Castile “looked” like the suspect because he had a “wide nose”

    For anyone interested, some interesting statistics here: https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/

  19. Bill Says:

    To keep beating this increasingly dessicating horses corpse…

    An interesting column from David French – in particular it lays out the time line of the event. It’s amazing how fast everything happened.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/448740/philando-castile-verdict-was-miscarriage-justice

    Some money quotes.

    Yes, the evidence indicates that Yanez was afraid for his life. He thought he might have been dealing with a robber (a fact he apparently didn’t tell Castile), and he testified that he smelled marijuana. But Castile was following Yanez’s commands, and It’s simply false that the mere presence of a gun makes the encounter more dangerous for the police. It all depends on who possesses the gun. If he’s a concealed-carry permit-holder, then he’s in one of the most law-abiding demographics in America.

    In recent months we’ve seen a number of cases where courts have excused police for shooting citizens even after the police made mistakes — and the citizens were doing nothing wrong — simply because these citizens were exercising their Second Amendment rights. This is unacceptable, and it represents the most extreme possible deprivation of civil rights and civil liberties.

    I understand the inherent danger of police work. I also understand the legal responsibilities of men and women who volunteer to put on that uniform, and the legal rights of the citizens they’ve sworn to protect and serve. I’m aware of no evidence that Yanez panicked because Castile was black. But whether he panicked because of race, simply because of the gun, or because of both, he still panicked, and he should have been held accountable. The jury’s verdict was a miscarriage of justice.

  20. AesopFan Says:

    parker Says:
    June 16th, 2017 at 6:05 pm
    AesopFan,

    Feel free to fund armed security for the likes of Maxine Waters or Hank guam tipping over Johnson. And keep your hand out of my pockets while you donate.
    * * *
    Ummm, I was kind of suggesting there should be NO funding for private armies, by anyone, including the government.
    Maybe just a tad too oblique?
    A couple of police bodyguards maybe, if their States are willing to hire them, but that’s all – otherwise we have the spectacle of rival goon-squads a la Turkey’s President.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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