Thursday, January 29, 2015

They Don't Know How They'll Feel

September 25, 1996.

That was the day Robert Charles Ladd raped, strangled, and beat to death Vicki Ann Garner, then set her on fire.  Today is the day the good people of Texas plan to strap him to a table, stick him with needles, and kill him for doing that.

What Ladd did was devastating to Garner's family.  Kenneth Dean of the Tyler Morning Telegraph spoke with some of them, including her sisters Teresa Wooten and Kathy Pirtle the other day.  They have, he reported, 
ridden an emotional roller coaster through the years topped with the deaths of their parents, who did not live to see their daughter receive justice.
The killing itself.  Just the loss, the emptiness.
“Part of our hearts were broken that day, and they have been ever since,” Teresa said.
Then the trial.   Ladd had been in prison before for a killing.  It took the jury 18 minutes to decide they wanted Ladd to be killed himself this time.  The family were happy with the verdict, but not satisfied.
They felt betrayed by the justice system, which they said failed them and all of the residents of Texas and allowed a killer to kill again.
"If he would have still been in prison, then our sister would be alive today," Teresa said, who now works as a sexual assault director in Mount Pleasant. "He was released on mandatory release, because the laws had changed, and this allowed him to kill our sister.”
And then the years.  

In 2003, the family were on their way to Huntsville to watch Ladd be killed when they learned he'd gotten a stay.  

More years while the federal courts reviewed.

And, of course, it's not over yet.  They plan to kill him tonight, and they probably will.  But executions do get halted at the last minute.  Ladd's intellectually disabled.  He has an IQ of 67.  The Constitution forbids executions of people with his disability.  Then again, Georgia killed Warren Lee Hill the other day, in violation of that same constitutional prohibition.  The courts let that one happen. Texas will likely get it's way.

For Vicki Ann Garner's family?
"It's really been a long, hard journey. Over the course of time, we have lost both our mom and our dad, and neither one of them ever saw justice," Teresa said of the lengthy process.
Her sister, sighed and added, "It's been real emotional roller coaster of ups and downs."
Kathy’s husband, Clint, said Vicki's death created a ripple effect in the family, but all of the couples managed to stay committed to each other, and the family as a whole grew stronger.
"It disturbed the family dynamic somewhat. ... Not so much the marriage, but in how we related to our children and everything. There was a ripple effect throughout everything that we did. It seemed everything happened at the most inopportune time whenever you're trying to be supportive ... you have to push everything aside and take care of that," Clint, a retired state trooper, said.
Kathy said the fabric of the family unit was stretched, but it never broke. Her sister agreed.
"It really has been a tough time for all of us. I can tell you that without Michael, I wouldn't have made it. This man has been throughout the past 18 years my rock, and I don't know what I would have done without him," she said clutching her husband's arm.
In a soft-spoken voice, Michael replied, "It was a really tough time, and you see a lot of emotions, but the days are getting shorter for him. He will have judgment day pretty soon."
But there's also this.
Despite losing their daughter tragically, Gene and Lawanta decided they needed to forgive the man who took her life.
Teresa said, a few years after the murders, her mother and father wrote Ladd, telling him they forgave him of the crime.
And she and her sister?
“For me it's been an on-going process. You know I forgive him, and I'm at peace, and then something happens, and so it's a constant thing. I can’t say I have forgiven and totally let go of it, but I am working on it," Kathy said.
Teresa said she wrote Ladd a letter telling him she forgave him, but she stressed the forgiveness was not for him, but for her peace of mind.
It's a hard thing this business of forgiving.  As Teresa said, it's not for him, it's for her.  That's how it works.  To ease the forgiver.  To make it possible, finally, to get on with life without the bitterness and hate.  

Still, forgiven or not, they want Ladd killed.  And they plan to see it happen.  They said they don't know how they'll feel when it happens.  But they'll be there.

When Wilford Berry was killed by Ohio in 1999, our first execution since 1963, then-Ohio-Attorney- General Betty Montgomery, who fought to make it happen, who we called Bloody Betty for her eagerness to finally get some people killed here, said in a rare moment of awareness,
There are no winners here tonight.
What she didn't say that night in 1999, but what was also true, is that everyone lost.

On September 25, 1996, Robert Charles Ladd raped, strangled, and beat to death Vicki Ann Garner, then set her on fire.  Today the good people of Texas plan to strap him to a table, stick him with needles, and kill him for doing that.



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

News from the World of Public Defenders

Three stories.

San Francisco.  The City by the Bay.  The embodiment of the left coast.  Liberal mecca.

That's where Jami Tillotson plies her trade as a deputy public defender. And where, in the Hall of Justice around 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon, her client and a co-defendant had just appeared on a misdemeanor theft charge.  When they left the courtroom, Sergeant Brian Stansbury, a plainclothes cop, started to question them. Wanted to take their picture.

No, said Tillotson.  This is my client.  You can't do that.  Yeah, said Stansbury.  We can, we will.  And if you try to tell us we can't, try to tell him he shouldn't talk to us or cooperate, we'll arrest you for resisting arrest.

Really.  They said that.

And she said OK.  And they cuffed her.  Took her away.  And Stansbury took his pictures.  "Try not to move," he told her client.

* * * * *
Gideon wrote this morning about Andrew Capone, a PD in Pittsbuergh, who, Liz Navratil of the Post-Gazette reported was arrested for "hindering apprehension and obstructing the admnistration of law." Seems Capone's client left the courthouse before his trial after Capone told him that the prosecutor was offering a deal that would have him spending 5-10 years in prison.  And when asked where his client was, Capone said that he hadn't seen him that day.  

Of course, the client didn't really get away with missing court.  Police found him four days later. Across the state line in West Virginia.  Dead, from what's described as "a self-inflicted gunshot wound."
* * * * *
Meanwhile, in Utah, Public Defender David Corbett asked to get off a case.  His client, who's doing LWOP after a plea to murder for killing a corrections officer, wants to withdraw his plea.  The court said no, and the client's been appealing.  He's also been running through lawyers at an apparently alarming rate.  Thing is, he keeps threatening them.  Corbett was all set to stick with him anyway, even though he didn't like the brief Corbett filed.  Jack Healy reports in the NY Times.
“He became upset with me when we filed the opening brief, and that’s when he became aggressive,” Mr. Corbett said. He told Mr. Corbett he knew how to reach people “on the outside.” A few weeks later, an envelope from him arrived at Mr. Corbett’s home. 
Corbett, of course, had not told the client where he lived.

The Utah Supreme Court let Corbett withdraw.  And then announced that his client was on his own. He'd forfeited his right to counsel.


Honest to god, this isn't how it's supposed to be.

Retards Killing the Intellectually Disabled

A bit of history.

The year was 1989.  Johnny Paul Penry was, as even polite folks said in those days, mentally retarded.  He was also on death row in Texas.  That combination of things, his lawyers said, should be impossible.  The berobed ones in Washington agreed to answer whether they were.  Sandra Day O'Connor put the question simply in her opinion for the Court.
We must also decide whether the Eighth Amendment categorically prohibits Penry's execution because he is mentally retarded.
The answer (by a 5-4 vote) was a clear no.  Oh, it's something juries ought to be allowed to consider (Texas more-or-less prohibited even that at the time) when deciding what to do, but hey, killing the retards is cool.
In sum, mental retardation is a factor that may well lessen a defendant's culpability for a capital offense. But we cannot conclude today that the Eighth Amendment precludes the execution of any mentally retarded person of Penry's ability convicted of a capital offense simply by virtue of his or her mental retardation alone. So long as sentencers can consider and give effect to mitigating evidence of mental retardation in imposing sentence, an individualized determination whether "death is the appropriate punishment" can be made in each particular case.
Fast forward to 2002.  Daryl Renard Atkins was on death row in Virginia.  Like Johnny Paul Penry, he was intellectually disabled.  The Supremes decided to have another go at it.  John Paul Stevens, who'd dissented in Penry began his opinion (for a different 5-4 majority) this way.
Those mentally retarded persons who meet the law's requirements for criminal responsibility should be tried and punished when they commit crimes. Because of their disabilities in areas of reasoning, judgment, and control of their impulses, however, they do not act with the level of moral culpability that characterizes the most serious adult criminal conduct. Moreover, their impairments can jeopardize the reliability and fairness of capital proceedings against mentally retarded defendants. Presumably for these reasons, in the 13 years since we decided Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U. S. 302 (1989), the American public, legislators, scholars, and judges have deliberated over the question whether the death penalty should ever be imposed on a mentally retarded criminal. The consensus reflected in those deliberations informs our answer to the question presented by this case: whether such executions are "cruel and unusual punishments" prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the Federal Constitution.
And so it was that Penry was overruled and execution of the intellectually disabled was recognized as unconstitutional.  

The catch was that the Court decided to let the each of the states that killed people decide for itself how to figure out who was sufficiently, er, slow.  Oh, sure, there were actual standards, clinical definitions by people who studied this shit out there, and the Court said they should count, but if you were, say, Florida, you didn't care about that.  You just made an arbitrary cut-off of 70 and said if someone had a number higher than that, 
Off with his head.
The Supremes took on Florida's rule last year in the case of Freddie Lee Hall.  By the familiar 5-4 vote, they said, in an opinion by Kennedy, Florida blew it.  That there were actual standards, clinical definitions by people who studied this shit.  Florida couldn't just make it up.  Alito, dissenting, said that sure they could.  
Hey, we're talking about whether to kill the retards, not whether to treat them.  Who cares what experts say?  We have elected legislators and judges who are far more able to decide who has an intellectual deficit than people who study the matter.  I mean, retards can always recognize another retard, right?*
Ah, but Georgia.  The Peach Tree State.  Where the guy on the row must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he's a retard (as they probably still think it's proper to say down there).

Warren Lee Hill was in prison when he killed Joseph Handspike, another inmate.  They've been trying to kill Hill ever since.  Thing is, as Alan Blinder writes in the Times,
Although Mr. Hill’s appeals sometimes involved questions about Georgia’s lethal injection protocols, his last legal campaign dealt with a contention of an intellectual disability. Mr. Hill, with an I.Q. of 70, had “the emotional and cognitive functioning of an 11-year-old boy,” Mr. Kammer [one of his lawyers] said.“Warren Lee Hill is intellectually disabled,” Mr. Hill’s lawyers told the Supreme Court in a filing. “The lower Georgia courts have said this twice. All of respondent’s experts have acknowledged this fact.” 
Get that.  Hill's experts say he's intellectually disabled, and so do the experts Georgia dug up.  I mean, the state can't find an actual whore psychologist who'll say Hill isn't intellectually disabled (as they probably don't bother to say down there). 

And then there are the courts.  The ones that took the evidence and twice said he's intellectually disabled.  And were overruled by higher courts because they're fucking retards (as we say up here of the Georgia high court).

And last night, after Georgia parole board or whatever they call it said to kill and the governor signed off on it and the 9 in DC said, it was OK (actually, only 7 of the 9 - Breyer and Sotomayor voted to call a halt at least to consider), they did.  Last night.

By the way, around the time the good people of Georgia were committing an execution in violation of the 8th Amendment, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals announced that it had no problem with that state's killing Robert Ladd tomorrow night despite the fact that he's intellectually disabled. 

Because, really, nobody gives a damn.



--------------
*Disclosure: That's not an actual quote.    

Monday, January 26, 2015

Glossip, Grant, and Cole. Not Warner

Question 1: Is it constitutionally permissible for a state to carry out an execution using a three-drug protocol where (a) there is a well-established scientific consensus that the first drug has no pain relieving properties and cannot reliably produce deep, comalike unconsciousness, and (b) it is undisputed that there is a substantial, constitutionally unacceptable risk of pain and suffering from the administration of the second and third drugs when a prisoner is conscious.
Question 2: Does the Baze-plurality stay standard apply when states are not using a protocol substantially similar to the one that this Court considered in Baze?
Question 3: Must a prisoner establish the availability of an alternative drug formula even if the state’s lethal-injection protocol, as properly administered, will violate the Eighth Amendment?
Friday afternoon, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear Glossip v. Gross, a case out of Oklahoma brought by death row inmates Richard Glossip, John Grant, and Benjamin Cole, and answer those questions this term.

Glossip's on death row for the murder of Barry Van Treese. It's not that he actually killed Treese. Justin Sneed did that, beat Treese to death with a baseball bat. Sneed confessed to the killing and said that he did it 'cause Glossip promised him $10,000 if he'd do it. Sneed's sentenced to LWOP, death in prison. Glossip's sentenced to be killed. It's supposed to be done later this week, on Thursday.

Grant had served about 18 years of a 130 year sentence when he killed Gay Carter, a corrections worker, stabbed her to death with a shank. Then he tried to stab himself to death, but the corrections oficers stopped him. You know, it wasn't his call when he'd die. They'd get to decide when he was killed. As it stands now, Grant's killing is scheduled for next month, Feb. 19.

Cole killed his nine-month-old daughter, Brianna.  She was crying and making it tough for him to concentrate on the video games he was playing.  When she stopped crying, he went back to the games.  They plan to kill him March 5.

It's perhaps worth noting that when the petition for writ of certiorari was filed, Glossip wasn't the first named petitioner.  That honor went to Charles Warner.  On January 15, a week before the Court agreed to hear the case, it decided 5-4 (dissent by Sotomayor, joined by Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan, reproduced below) to let Oklahoma kill Warner.  Which it did that night.  

The ones in the robes haven't yet decided - at least they haven't gone public with a decision - whether to let Glossip or Grant or Cole be killed before ruling on their case.  It'd be unseemly.  Then again, they've done it before.  It was 1990, and James Smith was killed by Texas after 4 of the 9 in Washington had voted to hear his case but there wasn't a fifth vote to keep him alive long enough for that to happen.

Richard Glossip this week?  We'll see.

But while we wait, contemplate that third question the Court agreed to decide.  Will the state be allowed to torture an inmate to death, in violation of the Constitution, unless he can tell the how they can go about killing him properly?  Lower courts have regularly been saying the state can.  Damn, they gotta have some way of killing.  You want it to be constitutional, then give 'em a road map. Otherwise . . . .

Hey, you had a chance to convince us that you had a better way to be killed.  We can't help it, and won't help you, if you just dump it on us. 

Ohio, of course, is planning to keep everything secret.  It's pretty cool.  If they don't tell the guy how they're gonna kill him, then he can't really complain that they'll do it unconstitutionally.  And they've made it illegal to tell.  That's just moving into federal court here.

Welcome to 2015.  We've already killed four men this year:
  • Andrew Brannan - Georgia
  • Johnny Kormondy - Florida
  • Charles Warner - Oklahoma
  • Arnold Prieto - Texas
Will Glossip slow the parade for a few months?  We should begin getting an answer later this week.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The California Way: Perjury with Impunity

I've talked before about how the courts mostly just blow it off when the prosecutor commits misconduct.  Maybe he says improper things during closing argument.  Maybe he asks questions he knows he can't ask hoping to get away with it.  Maybe she hides exculpatory evidence or denies that the snitch got a deal when of course he did.

The courts may acknowledge the error.  They admonish the prosecutor to go forth and sin no more. But by god, the sumbitch they were after was guilty, so fuck it.  No remedy.

Which was how it came to pass (and I've told this story before) that I was sitting in the Ohio Supreme Court one day, waiting for my case to be called for oral argument, when I heard Cathy Cook explaining to the court that they'd admonished the prosecutor in her case repeatedly, told him that sometime there'd be a consequence if he kept up the misconduct.  Which he did.  And Cathy said,
You've got to make them lose to make them learn.
Which the court didn't do. 

It was a great line.  (I wrote it down as soon as I heard it.)  I keep quoting it because it's . . . . Well, the thing is, it isn't really right.  Making them lose isn't enough.

One time there was an illegal search of a car.  Cops turned up a whole lot of drugs.  The trial court let it in, the client entered a plea.  I took up the appeal and convinced the court of appeals that the drugs should have been suppressed.  Good job.  The client walked.  The Fourth Amendment got a brief reprieve.

A friend called to congratulate me.  But "Hey," she asked, "did they give him back the drugs?" She was joking.  But she had a point.

What was the consequence?  Some guy who was driving a shitload of drugs on I-75 from wherever to wherever, a mule who was just trying to pick up a few bucks, didn't have to spend the next couple of decades in state custody.  But the drugs were off the street (which the authorities seem to believe is important) and the cop got to go out again and roust someone else.

Made 'em lose?  Yeah.  Made 'em learn?  Not so much.

Which brings me to California, La La Land, home of dreams.  And the home base of the nation's largest federal appellate court, the 9th Circuit.  The story, though, starts in the state court where Johnny Baca was on trial for murder.  Sidney Powell, writing in the New York Observer, tells the story.
This case, Baca v. Adams, involves a clear violation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Napue [v. Illinois], which holds that prosecutors cannot put on perjured testimony, much less lie themselves.
. . .
In this case, the prosecution infected the case with false testimony–including by a prosecutor himself–over benefits given to a “cooperator” or a jailhouse “snitch.”
. . .
In Mr. Baca’s case, Deputy District Attorney Robert Spira first prosecuted Mr. Melendez. Melendez went to prison and became a “snitch.” Then prosecutors turned to prosecute Mr. Baca.
Prosecutor Spira took the stand at the trial of the next defendant, Mr. Baca, to discuss Mr. Melendez’s plea deal. Prosecutor Spira testified that Mr. Melendez did not get any consideration in exchange for testifying against Baca. The California Court of Appeal found this to be untrue. Deputy District Attorney Paul Vinegrad was the prosecuting attorney in Mr. Baca’s case who put on Mr. Melendez and his fellow prosecutor Mr. Spira as witnesses against Mr. Baca.
A magistrate and the California Court of Appeal found that California deputy district attorney Spira lied under oath, testifying against a criminal defendant and in support of a lying “jailhouse snitch” who was placed on the witness stand in apparent subornation of perjury. Making matters worse, the California Attorney General fought “tooth and nail” to keep the transcript of the relevant hearing from the California Court of Appeal.
The case made its way to federal district court where the judge agreed that the prosecutor had suborned perjury and that another prosecutor actually took the stand and perjured himself.  That's clearly improper, but it got Baca no relief.  

Because, you know, what difference would it have made?  By god, the sumbitch they were after was guilty, so fuck it.
Gotta make 'em lose to make 'em learn.
Or maybe, just maybe make it personal.  

Baca lost in the district court and took his case to the court of appeals.  Two weeks ago, they had oral argument.  Baca's lawyer, Patrick Hennessey, Jr., made his pitch.  Then Supervising Deputy Attorney General Kevin Vienna got up.

Three judges sit on the panel.  Kim Wardlaw, William Fletcher, and Alex Kozinski (presiding). None of them are happy.  For 20 minutes or so they tear into Vienna. 

  • Was the prosecutor who perjured himself prosecuted?
  • Was the prosecutor disciplined?
  • Was the prosecutor investigated?
  • What about the prosecutor who suborned perjury?
  • Is this business as usual for California prosecutors?  Does the lying bother them?  Does it bother the attorney general?  No investigation there, either, huh?
  • Do any of you give a rat's ass about this?
  • And your office fought tooth and nail to keep evidence that you lied away from the California court of appeals.  Why?
  • And what the fuck is wrong with you, and your office, and the state's prosecutors?

Well, he says, after this case is over I'm going to suggest that someone should maybe look into it.

Kozinski cuts to the chase.  Why have you waited?  Go, 48 hours.

Oh, and we'll hold off on submitting this case for 1 week (he's since gotten leave to take 2 more weeks) while your office and Baca's lawyer work out something that'll make Baca's lawyer happy. Or we're gonna name names.

And really, you should get going on yanking their licenses.  And prosecuting them for perjury.

Because making 'em lose is part of it.  But making 'em know that they, personally, are being held responsible, they they, personally, will suffer consequences.  

Had Baca's lawyers done what the prosecutor did, they'd have been charged with felonies in a hearbeat.  And their licenses would have been yanked just as fast.  But, of course, the prosecutors represent goodness and light.

But this one time.  

Watch the video.  The intro is what it is.  The fireworks start when Vienna gets up, at minute 16. They don't let up until the very end.  











Friday, January 16, 2015

As Long As It Was Policy



Imagine, if you will (and if you won’t, go away).
Someone you know and care about is murdered.  Viciously.  The evidence points to you.
Police come, show your mother the incriminating evidence, and ask her if you did it.
No, she says.  I’ve reviewed the evidence and find that he’s innocent.
Police leave, satisfied because his mom cleared him.
Welcome to the world of internal affairs where police investigate themselves and conclude that they behaved properly.

It’s not just police, of course.  Government agencies do it all the time with their employees.  Decades ago, back when he was a federal prosecutor, Scott Turow was accused of ethical impropriety.  He wrote of the experience in the NY Times Magazine.


Indeed, the most dismal -and disappointing - moment I have endured as a lawyer arose last year in a sharp dispute over ethical duties. In June 1987, a Federal appellate court in Georgia rebuked me severely for my role as a United States prosecutor in allowing a defense lawyer who was seeking to cooperate with the Government to secretly tape-record a conversation with one of his clients about a drug-selling scheme that the lawyer admitted he and the client were planning. When I protested, the court responded by suggesting that my conduct regarding the defense lawyer might have constituted obstruction of justice. Various public officials and scholars spoke out in my defense, and, after a full investigation, the Public Integrity Section of the United States Department of Justice publicly vindicated me and my superiors in the Justice Department who had directed my actions, stating that the conduct in question fully complied with Federal law. I believed - and continue to believe - that neither clients nor lawyers have the right to plan crimes secure from government law-enforcement efforts.
Ah, yes.  Vindication.  The Justice Department concluded that a Justice Department employee, in pursuit of the Justice Department’s goals, obeyed an order from his superiors in the Justice Department and did not violate the law when he did so.  Glad he got that cleared up.


Which brings me to the snipers of the North Miami Beach Police Department (NMBPD) and what they were doing out at the Medley Firearms Training Center.  What they were doing, reasonably enough, was target practice.  No complaint there.  If the police are going to have snipers (whether that’s a good idea is another matter), I want them to be good shots.  “Hit who you aim at rather than the guy next to him” seems a good rule for sniping. 
The thing is, the snipers of the NMBPD weren’t using generic targets.





Or




or even
They were using pictures of real people.  Facial shots.  So, you know, they’d recognize ‘em if they saw ‘em on the street, say.  Or during a raid.
Oh, and did I mention, at least one of the pictures was a mug shot.  From 15 years earlier.  Of a guy who’d served his time and gone straight.  His name’s Woody Deant.  From Miami NBC.

“Now I’m being used as a target?” said Woody Deant. “I’m not even living that life according to how they portrayed me as. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m a career man. I work 9-to-5.”
 You may not be surprised to hear that Woody is African-American.  All the targets were.  Just an unfortunate coincidence, really.  Training the snipers to kill black guys.

I mean, really, this is the US.  We have an African-American President f'rgodssake in this post-racial society. You know, the one where the Majority Whip in the House was the speaker at an event held by a white supremacist group of neo-Nazis.

But it's all good.

[North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis] noted that the sniper team includes minority officers. Dennis defended the department’s use of actual photographs and says the technique is widely used and the pictures are vital for facial recognition drills. But the Deant family questions why officers were firing targets with images of real people, in this case African-Americans, especially at a time when relations between minority communities and law enforcement are so tense.
“Our policies were not violated,” Dennis said. “There is no discipline forthcoming from the individuals who were involved with this.”
All according to Hoyle. 

Because as long as they didn't actually violate any policies it was OK for them to practice their sniping skills on black folk.

  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

American Exceptionalism Part Deux

OK, OK.  So the administration now says that the we should have sent someone who we could claim was at least important to the march.  Not a "world leader," of course (that would be his Barakness), but someone like a cabinet officer - say Eric Holder who just happened to be in Paris at the time but somehow just couldn't get over to where stuff was going on.

But really, you know, we're absolutely engaged in the fight against terrorism in France, and wasn't that the point?  Hey, the French know it.

Except that wasn't the point.  Or at least not all of it.  It was about the pen.  It was about Je Suis Charlie.  It was about freedom and liberty.   
  • Liberté!
  • Égalité!
  • Fraternité!
World leaders who don't believe in those things, who deny them to their people, showed up to honor them in this one moment.  And to say that the weren't afraid.

And yeah, that they opposed terrorism (even, again, those who may encourage it).   

But you know, the President and the Vice President, they can't just go zipping off places without super security.  From a CNN report.
"I think it's fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile to be there," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday afternoon.
He said Obama himself would have liked to attend the march "had the circumstances been a little different." But planning began Friday night, 36 hours before the event began, and there wasn't enough time for the "onerous and significant" security work that needed to take place ahead of a presidential visit, Earnest said. He said Obama's presence also would have meant extra restrictions on the people who were there.
Oh, sure, everyone else marched down the street, arm-in-arm, bravely, defiantly, secure in the knowledge that well over 2,000 troops were guarding them.  But the President?  The veep?  Oh no.  

And so, we didn't attend a march to show that we weren't afraid to endorse freedom and liberty in the face of terror, to show that we weren't afraid to put ourselves on the line.  We didn't attend because we wouldn't put ourselves on the same line as the rest of the world.  Because we'll stand up for freedom and liberty only when 

Look, the government, our government, is good at condemning terrorist acts.  And we're good at blaming "radical" this or that.

You don't see much effort to understand what motivates, and to condemn that.  The need, for instance, to crush ideas and images some folks may not like.  You know, to understand that they attacked Charlie Hebdo because of its speech.*  Politically incorrect speech.  Speech that upsets. Speech that wasn't nice and fuzzy and warm and belly-rubbing.

Speech that we protect by the 1st Amendment.  Even though both our government and much of the population don't much like that one.  

Certainly not to the point of Voltaire, for whom the street the march began on was named.  You know, Voltaire:
I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
As long as I have my own special security forces surrounding me.

The first cover since the attack


-------------
* Yes, I know it's more complicated than that.  Yes, I know about the kosher supermarket.  Yes, I get it.  But they picked on Charlie Hebdo specifically because of the cartoons.