Monday, October 1, 2007

Could it have been me?


A few years ago I was flying Midwest Airlines from Madison to Milwaukee where I was to get a connecting flight to Phoenix. For some dumb reason, entirely my fault, I thought my flight time was a half hour later than it actually was. When I got to the airport there was a very long line at the ticket desk. Our airport was in the middle of being extensively remodeled so I was hoping to check in at the gate or find a ticket check-in kiosk but nothing was where it used to be. I had two choices: stand at the back of the line and wait for an hour to ask directions of the sole Midwest worker inside the terminal or go to the desk and politely wait to ask the sole Midwest worker where I might find a kiosk or how to get to the gate. When the Midwest worker was through with one customer and was about to help the next I said "excuse me, I really need to catch my flight.."

"Get to the back of the line" she shouted at me.

"Well, I was just wondering if you could tell me--"

"I cannot help you. Get to the back of the line and wait your turn"

"My flight to Milwaukee is about to leave. Is there somewhere else I can check in?"

"Your flight has been cancelled. All of these people were on that flight and I have to rebook them. Now GET TO THE BACK OF THE LINE" She was literally screaming at me. Nobody in line was irritated with my questions. Our flight had been cancelled they weren't going anywhere. They were rolling their eyes at her.

So, I went to the back of the line. I waited. And waited. More waiting. Meantime, since the Milwaukee airport is only about 1 hour and 15 minutes by car from the Madison airport, I thought that my best bet to make my connecting flight would be to drive to Milwaukee. However, if you miss the first leg of your flight, the second leg is usually cancelled. Watching my precious time slipping away while standing in line behind people who were going to wait out the next flight I decided to try to ask if I could cancel the Madison leg of the trip and pick it up in Milwaukee.

Back to the front of the line. "Ma'am, I just have a quick question I need to ask...."

"GET TO THE BACK OF THE LINE!!!!" veins were popping on her temples.

So I went to the back of the line. I was steamed. But I decided to just accept that my flight was gone. Any hope of making my connecting in Milwaukee was shot in the ass thanks to the hour I spent in line waiting to ask a question. I had non-cell phone people in Phoenix waiting for me at the airport, and I was beginning to see that my flight would get me to town well after the wedding rehearsal dinner I was supposed to attend would be over. Oh well.

So when I approached the desk and handed her my flight information I was silent. Better to say nothing, than to let her have it, I thought. Suddenly she started: "I don't even have to let you get on this flight. You got here less than twenty minutes before the flight was to have left, so I have every right to cancel your flight."

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me. You got here late. I will reschedule your flight but I just want you to know that I don't have to."

"Go right ahead and cancel my flight," I said. "But I expect a full refund".

"No refund. You were late."

"Lady, I'll keep my flight, then. But I'd just like you to know that I think you'd do better working in a morgue or a funeral home, because you really suck at working with living people".

She stapled my ticket, threw it at me and marched over to the security gate. I saw her talking to a security guard and pointing at me. When I approached security I was asked to step away from the regular area for the thorough "I'll just run my hands up down and around your boobies-oh, nice undies" search.

What a surprise.

This last weekend a woman missed her flight at Phoenix' Skyway Airport. We don't know what was said at the check-in desk, but Carole Ann Gotbaum ran off. Security grabbed her, threw her to the ground and handcuffed her. She was screaming "I'm not a terrorist. I'm a sick mom! Help me!" She was led away in handcuffs and locked in a secure room, alone. When security checked on her she was dead. It is believed she strangled herself trying to bring her hands, cuffed in the back, to the front.

When little, tiny-minded, mean people are given extraordinary amounts of power over their fellow citizens, bad things are going to happen. We saw that in the tasering of a university student whose crime was that his question was a little long winded. A woman ran through an airport (*gasp!* Isn't that what OJ was primarily famous for-prior to killing his ex?). Who hasn't run through an airport? Now that woman is dead. A few years ago a man was thought to have uttered something about a bomb, was chased off a jet and shot dead on the tarmac at Miami. He had no bomb. He had no weapon.

I feel afraid for us.

37 comments:

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

And now you see why I hate to fly. I'd sue their asses off if I was related to that woman and the security people should be tossed in jail for murder.

Suzy said...

Oh, Jess, I too feel afraid for us.

This is a heartbreaking story. Whatever happened to compassion for people in crisis, for talking the suicidal person down off of the ledge of the skyscraper, for helping the person in need?

But I believe that having bullies in charge in the upper echelons of power gives every person with bullying tendencies the power to bully others. We are now living in a culture of bullies.

DCup said...

You have every reason to feel afraid.

The powerful want the angry to do their bidding and keep the rest of us in line. It's working.

FranIAm said...

As someone who travelled between 50K and 100K miles a year pretty regularly from 1986-2005, I am not in the least surprised by your story.

This is not just a matter of insane security policies. It is also about crappy employers paying overworked and unhappy employees too little and asking too much. It is about our how pathetic this country has become.

Not to defend the rude airline person, but you said it all... sole employee. That's how it goes, if we can save a few bucks and schedule only one person and then cancel flights, well what can you expect?

The Phoenix story had my jaw drop. WTF?????

Our nation is a light extinguished. You however Jess, are a light burning bright with truth. (just in case you were wondering.)

Matty Boy said...

Is there any way this story makes sense? If your hands are bound behind you, your arms are going to be down at your sides, your hands down near your lower back. The easiest way to get them to the front, if you are limber and skinny enough, would be to get them under your feet by sliding them under your butt and legs. You would have to be super limber and possibly double jointed to even consider getting them up over your head.

It makes much more sense that somebody strangled her while using too much force, a pretty damn common event in our country today.

dguzman said...

I think I've dealt with that same woman every time I've had to take a flight.

I'm afraid. Really afraid.

Jess Wundrun said...

matty I had originally had a paragraph in the post about that, but took it out as being slightly tangential to the point I was trying to make.

You are absolutely correct. The physical report does NOT make any sense. Also- she was saying "I am sick". Maybe that's why she was running? And what was the sickness? Could it have had something to do with her death? Apparently being in distress in an airport today is illegal.

Whiskeymarie said...

Flying and all of the stress that goes along with it is the reason I have to take Ativan to fly. Seriously. I get so worked up about the things that inevitably go wrong.
I've learned to just try and keep my big mouth shut these days.

Jess Wundrun said...

whiskey it was nice knowing you. (my attempt at black humor). Your airport is full of craven senators practicing their stance. Maybe they won't notice you.

Dr. Zaius said...

I have trouble even thinking about stories like this.

Freida Bee said...

Oh, I had not heard of the woman in the airport. I am sad for her and her family. This police state is scary. And cover-ups are so prevalent these days. We should assume we are being lied to all the time.

no_slappz said...

Carole Anne Gotbaum was a suicidal woman with drug and alchohol problems. She was also known for her lack of mental stability.

She was on her way to Tucson to enter alcohol rehab.

The fact that she began shrieking and running through the airport while tearing off her clothes (read the eyewitness coverage) ought to let you know she was not normal and that it was in the interest of her safety and public safety that security people pinned her down and hand-cuffed her.

If there were any mistakes made in the handling of this woman, the mistake was in choosing the place to send her. Had anyone known this alcoholic, suicidal, substance abuser was going a little wacky for a few minutes, maybe she would have been sent to the mental ward of a Phoenix hospital.

But she wasn't wearing a sign to alert all the travelers and employees of the airport as well as security personnel that outbursts such as the one she had the other day were nothing to worry about.

Meanwhile, the autopsy will undoubtedly show that she strangled herself by twisting herself into a position from which she could not escape.

The situation is tragic and it shows there are contingencies for which security people and police are not fully prepared.

Meanwhile, it's worth noting that the person who was supposed to meet her at the airport failed to appear. Presumably this mystery person fully understood that Carole Anne was a nut because so far, there have been no media interviews with this person.

Long story short, the media coverage of this event shows that security people attempted to do their job with the best intentions but they did not count on the determination of this woman to resist arrest and foolishly fight against restraints that were intended to minimize injury.

Obviously this woman was not thinking of her children while she was fighting with the security people or later when she attempted to break free of handcuffs and chains. She was a nut.

Jess Wundrun said...

And nuts deserve to die? She broke exactly zero laws.

Oh well. Sorry for you, lady. Funny, I googled 'eyewitness account' for her and could find nothing about 'tearing her clothes off'.

... it was in the interest of her safety and public safety that security people pinned her down and hand-cuffed her. Nearly every credible account of the situation shows that the extreme handcuffing of this woman was the worst possible way to handle the situation.

Therefore, in the future, I am going to delete your comments on my blog that have no basis in reality or that cannot be backed up with a reliable source.

I don't want ignorant trolls. Contributors to a discussion? Yes. Bullshitters? No.

no_slappz said...

The following paragraph from this NY Post article cites eyewitnesses who claim Gotbaum was stripping off her clothes:

"Witnesses said Gotbaum, who was stripping off her clothes and screaming that she was not a "terrorist," was handcuffed by cops. They put a knee in the Upper West Side woman's back to restrain her on the floor during a disorderly-conduct arrest."

Furthermore, despite your beliefs, resisting arrest is a violation of law. There are also new laws that restrict behavior in airports.


GHOUL DUEL
By LORENA MONGELLI and DAVID SCHWARTZ in Phoenix and DAN MANGAN in N.Y.

October 3, 2007 -- An ugly tug-of-war over the body of Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum's daughter-in-law - who died mysteriously while handcuffed in Phoenix police custody - ended yesterday with an inconclusive official autopsy and a second exam by a renowned pathologist hired by her family.
With toxicological and other tests still pending on Carol Anne Gotbaum, a family lawyer said the "close" relationship between cops and the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office left him concerned about "the integrity" of the official autopsy.

Michael Manning, the lawyer, said the ME's office has a history of destroying and creating evidence and being biased toward law-enforcement officials.

Manning blasted the office for examining Gotbaum's body before the family's pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht, could arrive to observe the autopsy and for later taking its time to release the corpse.

"They won't release the body to us," Manning said yesterday afternoon. "They're putting us in a very difficult position. We're alarmed and disappointed."

But the body eventually was shipped to a Phoenix mortuary, where Wecht, who has probed the deaths of President John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley and Anna Nicole Smith's son, performed another own autopsy.

"Everything went fine. I did what I came to do," Wecht said.

Manning said Wecht's results are expected in "a week or so."

The ME's office said it could be weeks before it rules on the cause and manner of Carol Anne Gotbaum's death.

The 45-year-old woman died Friday in a Phoenix airport holding cell after going berserk when she missed a flight to Tucson, Ariz., where the petite mother of three was due to enter an alcohol-rehab center.

Witnesses said Gotbaum, who was stripping off her clothes and screaming that she was not a "terrorist," was handcuffed by cops. They put a knee in the Upper West Side woman's back to restrain her on the floor during a disorderly-conduct arrest.

Cops said they put her alone in a holding cell, where they found her dead soon afterward. They said she had been left for up to 10 minutes, during which time she wrenched her cuffed and shackled hands from her back to the front of her body.

When she was found, a chain from the shackle was pressed against her throat. Manning said a private investigator, who watched the official autopsy, saw numerous bruises all over her body, indicating a struggle.

Police and Manning suspect the woman, who attempted suicide in New York in the past year, was asphyxiated.

Dr. Michael Baden, another famed forensic pathologist, said, "There were a number of things that were done wrong here.

"If she's asphyxiated, someone else did it," said Baden, head of the New York State Police Medicolegal Investigation Unit.

Baden said that given her emotional state, she should have been taken to a hospital - and she should not have been left alone.

Noting that it would have been impossible for Gotbaum to strangle herself - because she would have passed out before being able to apply enough force to kill herself - Baden said "the most likely cause of death has to do with asphyxia and could be a result of too much pressure on her chest when they were putting on the handcuffs and the shackles."

Manning said that Carol Anne spoke to her husband, Noah, when she landed in Phoenix, telling him, "I want to do this [get treatment for alcoholism] for us. I want to do this for our kids. I'm committed to this. I'm so happy."

dan.mangan@nypost.com

Anonymous said...

No_slappz's comments are entirely indicated of something that has gone very wrong with our culture. Stated simply, it is this: far, far too many people hold the belief that if someone has the misfortune of being poor, insane, addicted, or is subject to any other unfortunate condition or situation that leads to poor decisions, then that means that their death is not only acceptable, but deserved.

I'm willing to bet that no_slappz usually votes republican.

Jess Wundrun said...

Simply put, to resist arrest one needs to have done something illegal that one needs to be arrested for.

I see NOTHING that shows that she was doing something illegal.

And though you have finally come up with an attribution, you'll understand if I'm still somewhat incredulous that the only source for the 'tearing off the clothes' issue is the NY Post.

slappz is in love with the police state. He says Gotbaum was taken into custody for her own safety, never once catching the extreme irony of that statement.

no_slappz said...

jess, you wrote:

"Simply put, to resist arrest one needs to have done something illegal that one needs to be arrested for."

Simply put, you're wrong.

The act of arrest is step one. Shortly thereafter comes the issue of why. Either an arrestee must be charged with an offense or released.

You wrote:

"I see NOTHING that shows that she was doing something illegal."

If she were ranting, raving and running through an open field outside Phoenix, I suppose no one would have cared.

But, context matters. She initiated a dispute with airport personnel, began ranting and raving and running around in the terminal. In short, disturbing the peace. Too bad for you if you believe security personnel should stand aside while nutjobs run loose and frighten passengers.

Where I live -- NY City -- nuts occasionally kill people. Every once in a while a nut pushes someone onto the subway tracks. On occasion nuts ingest a little crystal meth and become suddenly and inexplicably violent in public places. My list of examples is way too long to list.

Meanwhile, as a growing list of news reports shows, people at airports are becoming measurably more surly over flight delays and other travel problems.

An outburst like Gotbaum's at an airport is similar -- similar, not exactly the same as -- yelling "fire" in a theater. Like it or not, no has the right to spread fear among a crowd of people in a closed space.

Moreover, you have assumed that Gotbaum was a rational, sane and sensible person who would have quietly taken her seat on the plane had she been allowed to board after screaming at the gate personnel.

Her behavior assured that she would not get on that plane. We can only speculate, but since her family has admitted she needed treatment for alcoholism and suicidal tendencies, and because she was screaming at the gate personnel, one does not need great foresight to know she is the person most likely to continue screaming at flight attendants on-board the plane. Outbursts like that have already been the basis for pilots to order disruptive passengers off the plane, delaying flights and aggravating all other passengers.

In other words, Yes, her safety and the well being of all other people in her sphere of influence was the basis for her arrest.

You wrote:

"slappz is in love with the police state."

Police state? Please give me personal examples of your abuse at the hands of police.

You wrote:

"He says Gotbaum was taken into custody for her own safety, never once catching the extreme irony of that statement."

Yeah, and some people who go to the hospital for treatment die instead. There's no real irony in the fact that actions driven by good intentions go awry and result in unintended consequences. That's tragedy. The ironic element is good for novels, but to mention it here only mocks the seriousness of the situation. Doing so suggests you think it's obvious the cops should have known better. But there was nothing misguided in the motives of the security personnel at the airport.

Mistakes were made every step of the way. First, this woman descended into alcoholism. I'd say that's her fault. She was suicidal. That's just bad luck. But perhaps the boozing brought that out of her. Her marriage was in deep trouble due to her drinking. That's her fault. Clearly her husband had had it with her and she was facing divorce, probably because she was becoming a danger to her kids.

The fact that she was allowed to fly alone was yet another mistake. According to press reports, there was some family discussion about putting her on a plane alone. The couple who were scheduled to meet her at the Phoenix airport failed to show. That's their fault, and their absence certainly contributed to her agitation.

Meanwhile, it's worth asking why she was headed for alcohol rehab in Tucson when there are many rehab facilities in and around New York City, where she lived.

Drying out takes a little time. Why so far from home and the kids? Undoubtedly the Tucson facility is no Canyon Ranch spa. More likely akin to prison.

It's likely the Gotbaum's chose Tucson because it's far from NY and anyone who would know them, and sending her there would allow them to remain anonymous and away from the press.

no_slappz said...

And now a few words from the Gotbaum family spokesman as well as a few words from the family lawyer"

"Howard Rubenstein, a family spokesman in New York, said she attempted suicide last year and recently spent time in a New York psychiatric institution.

Before flying to Arizona, she spent a week with her family at Cape Cod, Mass., where she resolved to enter a treatment facility. Manning said she flew alone because her husband needed to remain with the children. Family friends were to meet her at Sky Harbor but never made the connection.

Manning said there is no definitive evidence that Gotbaum began drinking while awaiting her flight, but he added, "We believe that she probably had some drinks."

In other words, the Gotbaum family acknowledges she was a nut and very likely brought tragic problems down on her own head.

Sad, but true.

Jess Wundrun said...

Which is why she is dead?

Nice try imagining all sorts of things happening in her personal life and in that airport terminal. You do seem to have a flair for drama.

However, the gate was past security. There were no reports of her threatening anyone, just being very upset.

Your report of friends meeting her there doesn't really make sense. Unless they bought a ticket they wouldn't be allowed at the gate.

The people in the airport over-reacted to a situation that is not all that unusual because of the state of fear - yes, police state - that you are so enamored with. All of which, you agree, have come about in the wake of our response to 9/11.

You write that I think it's obvious the cops should have known better

Pretty much the point since the git go, little buddy. So why you're lingering to be obtuse is beyond me.

I'm not sure what your point is, but if you would like to go back and reread the post, what we are talking about here is abuse of power.

You seem to be arguing that she deserved what she got. Sorry, but I won't agree with that.

no_slappz said...

Minute by minute

On Friday, Carol Gotbaum arrived at Sky Harbor International Airport about 12:30 p.m. On Wednesday, Phoenix police provided the following account of what happened next. Their timeline is based on conversations with 15 witnesses, five officers and other investigative information:

Gotbaum arrived alone at Sky Harbor. She was supposed to then fly to Tucson. According to US Airways officials, Gotbaum was denied access to a flight in Terminal 4. There was a verbal altercation at the gate in Concourse B between Gotbaum and the gate attendant. Gotbaum became agitated and loud, and at some point, threw her handheld PDA, just missing a person. The PDA broke into pieces. Gotbaum left the gate area.

2:49 p.m. Phoenix police working at the airport received a radio call about a woman being loud and causing a disturbance at Concourse B. Two officers responded and located Gotbaum on the concourse. Before the officers contacted Gotbaum, they heard her yelling and observed her actions. They then tried to calm her, but she continued to yell and scream. Within 15 seconds of contacting her, they were joined by a third officer and attempted to arrest her for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.

2:53 p.m. Gotbaum and the officers ended up on the floor as they tried to handcuff her. The officers did not use pepper spray or a Taser. They then got Gotbaum on her feet, and two officers took her to a holding area. Gotbaum was handcuffed with her hands behind her back. She was still uncooperative, and the officers had to periodically slide her forward, with each officer holding an arm, in order to get her to the holding area.

Gotbaum was placed in a small holding room with a solid door and a small window. There were seven police employees in the holding area at the time. A female officer came to search Gotbaum, but Gotbaum continued to be uncooperative and didn't allow the search.

She was then additionally restrained as follows: In the holding room, there is a bench with an eyehook attached to it. The officers took a shackle, which is described as a metal chain, approximately 16 inches long, with a large handcuff on each side.

The total length of the chain with handcuffs is approximately 24 inches. One of the handcuffs on the shackle was attached to the eyehook on the bench. The other handcuff of the shackle was attached to the chain of the handcuffs that were on Gotbaum. So Gotbaum was handcuffed with her hands behind her back, and those handcuffs were attached to a shackle that kept her attached to the bench.

Officers felt that Gotbaum was not a threat to others or to herself and left her alone. They went to the holding area just outside the holding room. Gotbaum continued to yell and scream for six to eight minutes.

When she stopped, the officers went to check on her.

The officers found Gotbaum unconscious. Initial information indicates that she had worked the handcuffs to the front of her body, probably from under her legs, and had pulled the chain from the shackle across her neck area. The medical examiner will determine the manner and cause of death.

The officers called the Fire Department, removed the handcuffs and shackle, and began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and CPR. While doing mouth-to-mouth, Gotbaum vomited into one officer's mouth. The officer then spit up but continued to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while CPR continued. The officers also attempted to use a defibrillator. Several minutes later, fire officials arrived and took over lifesaving attempts.

3:29 p.m. Gotbaum was pronounced dead by Fire Department personnel.

How to help

Phoenix police have interviewed more than 20 people in connection with the death of Carol Gotbaum but are seeking others who observed the Friday incident at Sky Harbor International Airport. Witnesses are asked to call the Violent Crimes Bureau at (602) 262-6141.

no_slappz said...

jess,

I'm still waiting for examples of your abuse by members of the police state.

On another note, your insistence that people are cowed by threats and gag orders regarding special letters from the NSA struck me.

Based on your belief that Americans are so terrified of their government they wouldn't admit to receiving an NSA letter it's clear you think ALL Americans are utter cowards.

As you might know, the dictatorship in Myanmar is murdering monks who are standing in protest against the policies of that government. Despite knowing the consequences of their defiance, they are standing -- and dying for their belief in freedom and their desire for democracy. Brave on their part.

On the other hand, here in the freest country in the world, you claim Americans are so intimidated by their government they will risk nothing -- even though there is virtually no penalty for defiance.

In other words, your contempt for your fellow citizens is boundless.

Your view is also noteworthy due to your expectation of cravenness among citizens in the face of government opposition. You expect cowardice despite the many examples of Americans taking stands against the government.

Then there's always the splendid tradition of reporting stories and withholding the names of the sources. Our jails are not filled with reporters who have refused to divulge their sources.

The Pentagon Papers come to mind. It seems to me Woodward and Bernstein became folk heros for their roles. Did anyone go to jail as a result of the release of the Pentagon Papers? No. And shortly before he died, Deep Throat
outed himself.

Anyway, as I mentioned, I'd like to know how the police state has impinged upon your life.

Jess Wundrun said...

Thanks for your extensive research.

It still does not add up, no matter how hard you try to make it.

You are arguing that she was wildly out of control, was a danger to herself and others. Was obviously experiencing an altered state. (But somehow this second report makes no mention of the tearing off of clothes. Hmmmm)

But the article then says:

Officers felt that Gotbaum was not a threat to others or to herself and left her alone.

See? Even the reports you cite are contradictory. Immediately after they had to restrain her they felt she wasn't a threat? Are you kidding?
Have you noticed that NONE of your reports (please remember to include a citation next time) disclose what was said at the gate.

Here's the point of my post "When little, tiny-minded, mean people are given extraordinary amounts of power over their fellow citizens, bad things are going to happen. "

Would you kindly tell me what the hell your point is?

no_slappz said...

She was headed for Cottonwood de Tucson:

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Step Work
Off-campus meetings/outings

Big book study
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Challenge Course
History & Physical

Laboratory Tests
Educational lectures

Psychological Testing
Trauma therapies

Experiential therapies
Yoga

Individual therapy as prescribed
Acupuncture/Acudetox

Psychiatric physician appointments (our staff only)

Medical physician appointments (our staff only)
Recreational Therapies

Sexual Issues therapies
Nutritional Assessments and Groups

Music Therapy

Cottonwood is pleased to be one of the few treatment centers in the country offering all inclusive treatment rates.

When comparing costs to other facilities, please request from them a detailed list of charges in addition to the base daily rate and then carefully compare the total charges.

Cottonwood, due to the intensity of services it provides, has chosen not to contract with managed care companies. Cottonwood will, however, attempt to work with your insurer on an individual basis with the understanding that all charges are ultimately the responsibility of the patient or guarantor. Please speak with our admissions department for details.

Cottonwood de Tucson is not a Blue Cross/Blue Shield provider and doesn't accept this insurance.

Cottonwood de Tucson is not a Medicare, Medicaid or TriCare Provider and doesn't accept these funding sources.

Cottonwood de Tucson is not contracted to provide services for any state agency or program and doesn't accept these funding sources.

Jess Wundrun said...

Slappz it seems you don't understand computer technology. You are welcome to go back to Fran's website. There you will find all of the examples I gave the other day of the loss of our civil liberties that used to be granted to us by the Bill of Rights.

Statements like this one are simply absurd and need an enormous leap of logic to make "Based on your belief that Americans are so terrified of their government they wouldn't admit to receiving an NSA letter it's clear you think ALL Americans are utter cowards.

Here is one case, published in the Washington Post (Please note that it is but one of 140,000 such cases in the US. No, I can't imagine why the NYTimes hasn't tracked down each one either):

My National Security Letter Gag Order

Friday, March 23, 2007; Page A17

It is the policy of The Washington Post not to publish anonymous pieces. In this case, an exception has been made because the author -- who would have preferred to be named -- is legally prohibited from disclosing his or her identity in connection with receipt of a national security letter. The Post confirmed the legitimacy of this submission by verifying it with the author's attorney and by reviewing publicly available court documents.

The Justice Department's inspector general revealed on March 9 that the FBI has been systematically abusing one of the most controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act: the expanded power to issue "national security letters." It no doubt surprised most Americans to learn that between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued more than 140,000 specific demands under this provision -- demands issued without a showing of probable cause or prior judicial approval -- to obtain potentially sensitive information about U.S. citizens and residents. It did not, however, come as any surprise to me.

Three years ago, I received a national security letter (NSL) in my capacity as the president of a small Internet access and consulting business. The letter ordered me to provide sensitive information about one of my clients. There was no indication that a judge had reviewed or approved the letter, and it turned out that none had. The letter came with a gag provision that prohibited me from telling anyone, including my client, that the FBI was seeking this information. Based on the context of the demand -- a context that the FBI still won't let me discuss publicly -- I suspected that the FBI was abusing its power and that the letter sought information to which the FBI was not entitled.

Rather than turn over the information, I contacted lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union, and in April 2004 I filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the NSL power. I never released the information the FBI sought, and last November the FBI decided that it no longer needs the information anyway. But the FBI still hasn't abandoned the gag order that prevents me from disclosing my experience and concerns with the law or the national security letter that was served on my company. In fact, the government will return to court in the next few weeks to defend the gag orders that are imposed on recipients of these letters.

Living under the gag order has been stressful and surreal. Under the threat of criminal prosecution, I must hide all aspects of my involvement in the case -- including the mere fact that I received an NSL -- from my colleagues, my family and my friends. When I meet with my attorneys I cannot tell my girlfriend where I am going or where I have been. I hide any papers related to the case in a place where she will not look. When clients and friends ask me whether I am the one challenging the constitutionality of the NSL statute, I have no choice but to look them in the eye and lie.

I resent being conscripted as a secret informer for the government and being made to mislead those who are close to me, especially because I have doubts about the legitimacy of the underlying investigation.

The inspector general's report makes clear that NSL gag orders have had even more pernicious effects. Without the gag orders issued on recipients of the letters, it is doubtful that the FBI would have been able to abuse the NSL power the way that it did. Some recipients would have spoken out about perceived abuses, and the FBI's actions would have been subject to some degree of public scrutiny. To be sure, not all recipients would have spoken out; the inspector general's report suggests that large telecom companies have been all too willing to share sensitive data with the agency -- in at least one case, a telecom company gave the FBI even more information than it asked for. But some recipients would have called attention to abuses, and some abuse would have been deterred.

I found it particularly difficult to be silent about my concerns while Congress was debating the reauthorization of the Patriot Act in 2005 and early 2006. If I hadn't been under a gag order, I would have contacted members of Congress to discuss my experiences and to advocate changes in the law. The inspector general's report confirms that Congress lacked a complete picture of the problem during a critical time: Even though the NSL statute requires the director of the FBI to fully inform members of the House and Senate about all requests issued under the statute, the FBI significantly underrepresented the number of NSL requests in 2003, 2004 and 2005, according to the report.

I recognize that there may sometimes be a need for secrecy in certain national security investigations. But I've now been under a broad gag order for three years, and other NSL recipients have been silenced for even longer. At some point -- a point we passed long ago -- the secrecy itself becomes a threat to our democracy. In the wake of the recent revelations, I believe more strongly than ever that the secrecy surrounding the government's use of the national security letters power is unwarranted and dangerous. I hope that Congress will at last recognize the same thing."
*******

This is how you cite a quoted work:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/22/AR2007032201882.html
(try it sometime)

As far as how MY life has been impinged: simple. I am a citizen. If any citizen is denied rights we all can assume when our turn comes those rights won't be there for us.

You recall Reverend Niemoller, yes?

"First they came for the communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist..."

no_slappz said...

jess, you wrote:

"Officers felt that Gotbaum was not a threat to others or to herself and left her alone."

and:

"See? Even the reports you cite are contradictory. Immediately after they had to restrain her they felt she wasn't a threat? Are you kidding?"

I guess you need someone to spell out the obvious.

The officers said Gotbaum was not a danger to herself and others AFTER she was restrained. Prior to that, she was a danger to herself and others.

They left her alone AFTER restraining because they believed the risks she presented were nullified by putting her in the holding pen in handcuffs.

You wrote:

"Here's the point of my post "When little, tiny-minded, mean people are given extraordinary amounts of power over their fellow citizens, bad things are going to happen."

I see. So you possess the insight to intuit that the Phoenix airport cops are "little, tiny-minded mean people."

In other words, you are proclaiming yourself a mind-reader who can assess the mental landscape of people whose names you don't know and have never met.

This omniscience has allowed you to know and predict that Gotbaum was not a threat to anything or anyone. Not to her children while she was drunk or suicidal or at any other point in her emotionally disturbed life.

Even the family lawyer criticized the cops for mishandling an "emotionally disturbed woman."

Yes, that's a quote from Manning, the family lawyer. In other words, he admitted she's a nut.

In sum, you don't have a point. Since you declared that the security people were dangerous to the well being of citizens at the airport, your credibility goes out the window.

It's one thing to question the techniques of restraint used on people who are creating a distubance. It's something much different to indict all security people on the paranoid charge that their personal goal is to exercise life-and-death power over physically weaker people.

You asked:

Would you kindly tell me what the hell your point is?

To rebut the utter nonsense of your point.

Jess Wundrun said...

True or False: The police who restrained Ms. Gotbaum used excessive force?

True or False: The manner in which she was shackled was one in which trained law enforcement would not use for a person exhibiting her behaviors.

True or False: We know without a doubt that she was treated rationally and fairly by the staff at the gate while being denied access to a flight, and was promptly and pleasantly rerouted to the next available flight.

I'll await.

Utter nonsense indeeed. Of course it is all nonsense when you fail to comprehend the message from the start.

No rebuttal on the 140,000 Americans gagged under authority of NSL letters?

Just wondering.

Oh, and if you get the time you'll kindly explain what the list of services offered at a Tucson clinic have to do with the discussion at hand?

BAC said...

Slappz, the problem with your entire argument is this ... Carol Ann Gotbaum is dead. Having a chemical dependency problem -- if that was indeed a problem for her -- is not a capital crime. Having resources to afford rehab -- if that is where she was going -- is not a capital crime. Getting angry at an airport -- which it seems she was -- is not a capital crime. Hell, if it was I'D be dead by now! I fly all the time, and have had to deal with my share of difficult airline employees.

Carol Ann Gotbaum had a bad experience at an airline gate, and now she is dead. Something seems terribly wrong about that to me.


BAC

BAC said...

Jess -- I thought you might want to see this:


In California, Deputies Held Competition on Arrests

By SOLOMON MOORE
The New York Times

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 4 — A suburban sheriff’s station has had deputies vying to book the most people and impound the most vehicles, and the Los Angeles County sheriff said Thursday that he had ended the competitions.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/05/us/05sheriff.html


BAC

commander other said...

trolls are such fun!

Jess Wundrun said...

BAC Yikes!!!!

Commander they've got no balls and their nuts are in their heads. But they are kinda cute.

no_slappz said...

jess, you wrote:

"True or False: The police who restrained Ms. Gotbaum used excessive force?"

Obviously false. In her attempts to free herself from her restraints, she managed to kill herself. The fact that she was placed in a locked room alive, kicking and screaming, and was alone when she unfortunately strangled herself -- unintentionally, this wasn't a suicide -- leaves no doubt the police themselves were not the cause of her death. Thus, no excessive force.

You wrote:

"True or False: The manner in which she was shackled was one in which trained law enforcement would not use for a person exhibiting her behaviors."

I see. You slipped in the phrase "TRAINED law enforcement". Thus, you are suggesting they were not "trained".

I have no doubt they exercised their best professional judgment. Gotbaum simply found a way to thwart their well intentioned efforts. To answer your question: False.

You wrote:

"True or False: We know without a doubt that she was treated rationally and fairly by the staff at the gate while being denied access to a flight, and was promptly and pleasantly rerouted to the next available flight."

We know without a doubt she was treated properly by the person at the gate who told her she could not board the flight in question. It's worth keeping in mind that she arrived at the airport more than an hour before her connecting flight was to depart. The Gotbaums have admitted she was consuming a liquid lunch between flights. The witnesses confirm she threw a cell phone or similar device when she denied entry to the plane. Her behavior led to a call to security personnel.

You wrote:

"No rebuttal on the 140,000 Americans gagged under authority of NSL letters?"

Oooh. Yeah, like letter for jury duty. Tossed in the trash.

You wrote:

Oh, and if you get the time you'll kindly explain what the list of services offered at a Tucson clinic have to do with the discussion at hand?"

Very simple. I estimate the bill to dry out Gotbaum at more than $35,000. When someone has reached the stage of alcoholism that a nicely decorated and expensive prison is needed for salvaion, we're looking at someone whose troubles are catastrophically deep. No one goes to these facilities unless all other attempts at rescue have failed.

This woman was an unfit mother and, by definition, she was a danger to her children. Apparently that knowledge wasn't enough to keep her from knocking back a few drinks at the airport before zipping down to Tucson.

In the end, what's clear about your position is your belief that people are not responsible for their own behavior or the consequences of it. In your world, culpability and liability always lies elsewhere.

If there's a cop in sight, blame the cop. If a murder occurs and a cop is close by, blame the cop for not preventing the murder. Here in NY City, we have a slight problem with child murder. Sometimes overwhelmed single mothers kill their small children. Sometimes the boyfriend kills the kids. But every time it happens, the Agency for Children's Services of NYC is blamed for not stepping in soon enough to have stopped either the mother or the boyfriend from committing murder.

You're in that boat of people who dream that we're all victims of one oppressive force or another and never personally responsible for any of our own misfortunes.

no_slappz said...

jess, you copied:

"Rather than turn over the information, I contacted lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union, and in April 2004 I filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the NSL power. I never released the information the FBI sought, and last November the FBI decided that it no longer needs the information anyway."

Subsequently, this letter recipient told his tale to the Washington Post. Yeah, he's worried. His story is available worldwide on the Internet. Moreover, though his name was not published, it's not too likely the FBI missed the story about him and his letter and his refusal to cough up the requested information. It's not likely the FBI is unable to identify this person and connect his case to the Washington Post article. Yeah, he's shaking in his boots.

By the way, this story has been circulating on the Internet since its publication. I've seen it before. Its existence is further proof that ignoring these toothless letters is risk free.

no_slappz said...

jess, you copied:

"It is the policy of The Washington Post not to publish anonymous pieces."

Yeah, sure. Except when anonymity makes the story more compelling.

And:

"In this case, an exception has been made because the author -- who would have preferred to be named -- is legally prohibited from disclosing his or her identity in connection with receipt of a national security letter."

I think we have here something better known as an open secret. Like knowing that Israel has nuclear weapons even though the government has never acknowledged the fact.

And:

"The Post confirmed the legitimacy of this submission by verifying it with the author's attorney and by reviewing publicly available court documents."

Wow. Publicly available court documents!! What's in those public files? Pretty much everything related to this letter is my guess. So much for deep secrecy.

commander other said...

hey, no_slappz (which, if that's slappz, as in monkey, methinks thou dost protest too much), i realize that you are quite smitten with this remarkable talent you have of typing one-handed while presumably masturbating to a montage of Cheney, Bush, O'Reilly and Limbaugh, but the rest of us (especially those of us with small children of our own who recognize your desperate pleas for attention for what they are), humbly request that you relinquish control of the computer to whichever parent it is who home-schools you. because, really...*yawn*

Jess Wundrun said...

Once again, no slappz, thanks for playing.

Your lack of logical constructs are so shiningly apparent, there is really nothing I can add.

For instance, if we know there are rendition flights and NSL gag orders and unconstitutional searches, they can't possibly be bad because we know about them. Something like 'known knowns and known unknowns and unknown unknowns,' eh? And the New York Times - home to Judith Miller and Tom Friedman is our guarantee of freedom. You give me the giggles.

Oh, and the Gotbaum family is seriously challenging the propriety of the the police actions following her arrest. Seems you are very lonely in your position that this was a textbook case of good police work.

I know you won't change the highly challenged and diminished logic you use to construct an argument. I was just hoping to draw more out of you for the amusement of my readers.

It has been a pleasure!

no_slappz said...

jess, you wrote:

"Oh, and the Gotbaum family is seriously challenging the propriety of the the police actions following her arrest."

Such challenges are expected when the pay-off can run into the millions of dollars. Is there someone who wouldn't challenge the official story?

You wrote:

"Seems you are very lonely in your position that this was a textbook case of good police work."

As is common for people who deny the facts in front of them, you have changed the wording and the spirit of my statements.

This unfortunate incident is merely one of the rare examples of security practices that did not work as expected in one case.

As far as my comments go, I'm just early in my assessment. The backlash against those like you who see the episode as an example of government power run amok will begin shortly.

no_slappz said...

Based on every comment made by Carol Gotbaum's husband, it is painfully clear the one person most responsible for death is he.

Had he requested assistance from the airline BEFORE sending her off to Tucson alone, she would traveled without incident.

However, rather than face the truth, he would rather blame anyone but himself for his failure to plan her trip properly.

Seems he's getting some assistance from newspapers -- unless readers focus on his repeated claims that the "airport didn't know what it was dealing with" until he called AFTER her altercation had ended.

Since he knew what problems were possible, why did he choose to keep this critical information to himself at an obviously vulnerable point in his wife's life?