Sunday, July 5, 2009
By Paul Craig Roberts
As Americans celebrate July 4th, they can contemplate that the union of "free and independent states," like the former British colonial power, has evolved into its final manifestation--a complete whore house. While Members of Parliament in London charge their expense accounts with every personal expenditure, including the rental of adult xxx-rated films, an American newspaper put the reporting of public policy out to bids until politico.com blew the whistle.
In Washington, everything is for sale, including journalistic integrity. The Washington Post, which abandoned investigative reporting eons ago, decided to boost its sagging revenues by spreading her legs. The Post’s business division put out a flyer offering lobbyists access at the Post’s CEO’s gracious home to "those powerful few" in the Obama administration, Congress, and among the Post’s editors and reporters who decide the nation’s policies, such as health care.
The Washington Post’s flyer offered a Wal-Mart low cost of a mere $25,000 for one "salon" to interact with decision makers and $250,000 for eleven interactions.
Alas, people with an old-fashioned sense of integrity impugned the Washington Post’s new business model, and the Post’s boss, Katharine Weymouth, had to rescind the offer that would have rescued the newspaper by turning it into a "facilitator for private lobbyist-official encounters."
I say damn the old fashioned moralists. America would be much better served if the Washington Post was selling access to lobbyists instead of selling the US government’s PSYOPS operations in Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia, Ukraine, Serbia, Venezuela, Honduras, and everywhere else, for which the paper receives a pittance: the reporter can tell his editor that he has a deep source within the government, hardly an adequate recompense for wars that cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars at a time when Americans cannot pay the mortgages on their homes.
America would be better off if the Washington Post whored for lobbyists than for the US Imperial State, which has failed to adjust its imperial ambitions to its bankruptcy. As an example of its whoring for US Imperialism, on July 2, the Washington Post reported President Obama’s claim that Russian Prime Minister Putin is a person who lives partly in the past, with "one foot in the old ways of doing business and one foot in the new."
If Putin has "one foot in the new," he is ahead of Obama who has both feet in the past.
Obama said that Putin needs to learn that "the old Cold War approaches" to relations with the US are "outdated."
The Post reported this as if a failure of Putin’s is endangering US/Russian relations. The Post did not point out that it is Obama, not Putin, who has wars of aggression against three independent countries—Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, with a fourth war threatened with Iran. We know for a fact these wars originated in Bush administration lies and deception, but Obama continues the occupations and expands the wars, thus endorsing the deceptions.
It is the Washington whorehouse that unilaterally abrogated the anti-ballistic missile treaty with Russia and begin constructing anti-ballistic missile sites designed to negate Russia’s nuclear deterrent. If Russia’s nuclear weapons can be made useless, Russia can be knuckled under to accept America’s hegemonic will, and US hegemony takes another step forward.
It is Washington that is surrounding Russia with military bases: an anti-ballistic missile base in Poland, an anti-ballistic missile radar site in the Czech Republic, American-made "color revolutions," which have installed US puppet governments in Serbia, Ukraine, and Georgia, with failures in former constituent parts of Soviet central Asia.
NATO, once a European/American alliance against Soviet invasion of Western Europe is now a mercenary US force fighting for America in Afghanistan and attempting to encircle Russia from the Baltics to Central Asia.
Obama will soon be on his way to Russia to discuss whether or not Russia is willing to give in to US demands to prostrate itself before US hegemony. Obama hopes to drive a wedge between Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev, like the wedges Washington has facilitated between the ambitious ruling ayatollahs in Iran. If Obama can get Putin and Medvedev at odds, Russia will be neutralized.
That would leave China alone as an obstacle to US world hegemony.
The US has no media. But it does have a Ministry of Propaganda. Americans were programmed with days of propaganda that Islamic Iran, a member of the US-designated "axis of evil," stole the election from the Iranian people. According to the US Ministry of Propaganda, the Iranian people are allied with the US government against the Iranian government.
Even people who are regarded as Iran experts said, without any evidence, that the elections were stolen. One of their arguments is that three hours were not enough time to count all the votes, yet it was announced that Ahmajdinejad won. The ignorance of "experts" made theft a certainty for American TV audiences.
The "experts" who make this assertion are obviously ignorant of Iran’s electoral procedures. For the ignorant "experts" and the Americans deluded by them, here is the way it works:
There are more than 45,000 voting places, which means less than 1,000 votes per voting place, an easy number to count and report in three hours. At each voting place there are a dozen or more observers, including every candidates’ representatives, representatives of the Guardian Council, and the local police. The votes are counted in the presence of all, and all sign documents attesting to the count.
The vote totals are forwarded to a central office in the region that has representatives of the candidates and the Guardian Council, where they are verified by a dozen or a dozen and a half of witnesses. From here the vote count goes to the Minister of the Interior, where the vote is announced.
Unless these procedures were not followed, and no evidence has been provided that the procedures were not followed, it is impossible to steal an Iranian election. It is much easier to steal an American one, which happens routinely.
There are thousands, indeed tens of thousands of witnesses, perhaps hundreds of thousands of witnesses, to the Iranian vote. Yet, only Mousavi and his corrupt supporters among the high living Iranian elite, who are fighting for personal power in Iran, contest the vote. The kids in the street were the usual dupes. At this stage in history, how can anyone believe that there is a pure candidate that wants to bring freedom and justice to the people? Anywhere. In any country, the US included.
Ignorant "experts" made a great noise about the fact that 50 cities or towns had votes in excess of registered voters. Again, this is a demonstration of "Iranian experts" total ignorance. In Iran, voters can vote wherever they happen to be at the day of election. Vacationers, business people on travel, commuters, and the partial absence of distinct voting districts, can produce a vote count in excess of the local registered population.
The Guardian Council examined these differences, added them up, and noted that if every additional vote was fraudulent, the number was insufficient to affect the outcome.
The Guardian Council has agreed to post every vote count.
Did you, dear American, learn of these facts from Fox News, CNN, the New York Times, or from the CIA and Mossad bloggers? Of course not. Every time "your" media opens its mouth lies jump out that serve the US government’s hegemonic propaganda.
America’s salvation lies with Charles Pelton and the Washington Post’s business side managers. Once the American media is obviously a whorehouse, which it is, Americans might pull themselves out of their stupor and learn to recognize facts and to think for themselves.
But don’t hold your breath. From what I have seen, with few exceptions, Americans are as dumb and insouciant as they come. And they think they are the salt of the earth.
A case of mistaken identity has landed several Mesa police officers in a federal lawsuit brought by a woman claiming they harassed her and unlawfully entered her home while searching for a man who used to live there.
In the lawsuit which was transferred to U.S. District Court on June 11, Beth Hovland says she grew tired of the repeated harassment that began in January 2008 and ended last fall, when police claimed to have an arrest warrant and threatened her with jail outside her home for nearly an hour."It's scary the power they have," Hovland said in an interview. "I would hope they would live under their oath and protect and serve, and do their job properly. I had to uproot my family and move away from this."
Named in the suit are the city and the police department; Officers Glen Heslip, Galvin Tanner, Daniel Beutel; and Detectives Rich Elmore, Isaac Brenneman and Ron Davis. Each have denied the claims in court documents.
Hovland claims the harassment began in January 2008, when a probation officer showed up looking for a man wanted on outstanding warrants.
"I explained that I didn't know him," Hovland said of the man who previously lived at the home she was renting.
Several hours later, Hovland's daughter called her at work stating "police officers had surrounded her house and were yelling this person's name and demanding he come out," she states in her lawsuit.
Officers were seen from her backyard exiting the back door of the unoccupied home, the lawsuit states.
Last July 20, two police officers knocked on Hovland's door and again asked where the wanted man was. They questioned her for about a half-hour.
"Beth made it clear to the officers that she has never known this person and requested that her address be taken off any future searches for this individual," the lawsuit states.
The following month, detectives Davis and Elmore returned to the home, telephoned inside and spoke to Hovland's son and ordered him to come outside. The son stated he couldn't come outside because his mother wasn't home.
The detectives "forced" their way into the garage and made their way through to the kitchen door from the garage. "They had neither a warrant nor legal reason to force their way into Beth's home," the lawsuit states.
However, Hovland was home and folding laundry, when she came out and found Davis and Elmore standing "uninvited" in her kitchen.
"Beth had a confrontational encounter with the detectives that lasted nearly two hours. She repeatedly demanded the detectives show a search warrant to enter the house and demanded they leave if they did not have a warrant," the lawsuit states.
Police returned three hours later, accompanied by detective Brenneman and questioned Hovland for 20 minutes, as they argued over a car mirror she claims the officers broke while in her garage.
About 11:30 p.m. August 27, Hovland was awoken by officers Buetel, Heslip and Tanner at her front door. The officers claimed to have a warrant for Hovland's arrest on an outstanding red-light camera ticket, which she said was dismissed.
Buetel gave Hovland two choices: go to jail and pay the fine or go to jail and see the judge. She also claims she was subjected to taunts and threats outside her home.
Despite the incident, "no warrant existed for Beth Hovland's arrest," the lawsuit states.
The officers had the woman stand outside for about 55 minutes, which aggravated a knee condition because she's under doctors' orders not to stand longer than 10 minutes.
In her initial claim against the city, Hovland's attorney, Keith Knowlton, offered to settle the incidents for $150,000. However the plaintiffs have rescinded that offer.
"People who have been wronged by the police need to come forward. If officers feel they can get away with things, they will," Knowlton said.
Mistaken identity leads to lawsuit against Mesa police
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The best line in Nathan Guttman's piece in the Forward about the Justice Department's effort to prove that a pro-Israel spy ring was operating inside the Pentagon, AIPAC and the Israeli Embassy came from Steve Rosen, the former AIPAC lobbyist whose indictment on espionage charges the Justice Department recently dropped.
In 2003 the Justice Department stung Rosen. Here is how it went down. The feds had flipped a Pentagon analyst named Larry Franklin, who had been passing along secrets to Rosen and fellow AIPAC'er Keith Weissman. And in June 2003 they gave Franklin a fake cable saying that Israeli agents in Kurdistan were in mortal danger. Franklin brought the paper to Weissman at a restaurant. Weissman went back to AIPAC. Rosen promptly told an Israeli diplomat.
Franklin told the Forward that the AIPAC guys' actions crossed a line. The Forward got in touch with Rosen, who bridled.
"Franklin did not expect us to warn the Israelis that they would be kidnapped and killed? That’s like telling officials of the NAACP that there is going to be a lynching, but don’t warn the victims, because it is a secret.”
Rosen's response is fascinating for a few reasons. First, it shows that he sees himself as part of the Jewish nation, which transcends geographical borders. It is an expression of loyalty to the Jewish people. Second, his analogy of AIPAC to the NAACP during Jim Crow was echoed by Jeffrey Goldberg, the pro-Israel journalist, in a New York event two years ago where he said that gentiles can't say what is anti-Semitic, Jews can; just as blacks know what is racist and whites are not able to make that determination.
There is a second Goldberg echo here. In 2002 Goldberg wrote a piece from Kurdistan for the New Yorker on Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons that basically said that Saddam was another Hitler bent on acquiring nuclear weapons. The piece ended, of all places, at the Israeli embassy in Washington, where Goldberg talked to a diplomat about Israel's destruction of the nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981. The Kurdistan-Israel connection.
The Goldberg piece reminds us of the backdrop for the Justice Department investigation: the Iraq War. Franklin says that the Justice Department investigation was aimed at Doug Feith, the Under Secretary at the Pentagon, who pushed the Iraq war. Indeed, Justice was conducting this investigation through the spring of 2003, even as the U.S. was launching the disastrous Iraq war (at Goldberg's urging, too).
It is obvious in retrospect that a lot of the energy for the investigation must have come out of a feeling inside the Justice Department that Iraq war supporters were not being upfront about their true loyalty, Israel, which of course had been attacked by Iraq several times.
I share that feeling; and one of my grand irritants is Doug Feith's non-mea-culpa book of last year, War and Decision, where he basically put all the blame on George Bush, absolved the neoconservatives of any agency in the war, and failed to report the long memorandum purporting to link Al-Qaeda and Saddam that his office provided the White House to goad the country to war. At about the same time, Jeffrey Goldberg was also writing a piece for the New Yorker arguing that Saddam and Al-Qaeda had made an "alliance."
I believe that Feith and Goldberg pushed the war in good part out of concern for Israel's security. Goldberg has had dual loyalty. He once moved to Israel and served in the Israeli Defense Forces, back when he thought that anti-Semitism was a river running under American society. Feith, who is now a blogger (which is what he should have been doing instead of plotting the destruction of an Arab society), has often put Zionism and Israel first-- and he has good reason to do so. He says in his book that his Polish father narrowly escaped the Holocaust. "Both of his parents, four of his sisters, and all three of his brothers--my grandparents, aunts, and uncles--were murdered in the Holocaust."
Anyone with that background would be preeminently concerned about anti-Semitism. And the primacy of the Holocaust in the Jewish memory/experience means that Jewish liberals and even leftists have given the neoconservatives little resistance as they pushed a militant case on behalf of the Middle East's only democracy. We are all waking up from that now, the Jewish community is. The process will not be complete until neoconservatives and their adjutants are compelled to answer openly, Why do they feel unsafe in America? Is there any real basis for this insecurity?
He might have trouble explaining how his policies reflect the spirit of the men who left us such words as these:
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must be happy.
Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread.
A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.
Meanwhile, McCain called for the American government to more vigorously support the protesters in Iran. What would the Founders say to him?
The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible….Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest.
Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.
[America] has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. …Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.
Maybe each week there should be three national radio broadcasts: one from the incumbent president, one from the other big-government party, and one reflecting the views of the Founders.
NOT EVERY day, and not even every decade, does the Supreme Court rebuke the Military Advocate General. The last time this happened was 20 years ago, when the Advocate General refused to issue a proper indictment against an officer who ordered his men to break the arms and legs of a bound Palestinian. The officer argued that he considered this to be his duty, after the Minister of Defense, Yitzhak Rabin, had called for “breaking their bones”.
Well, this week it happened again. The Supreme Court made a decision that was tantamount to a slap in the face of the army’s current chief legal officer, Brigadier Avichai Mendelblit.
The incident in question took place in Ni’alin, a village which has been robbed of a great part of its land by the Separation Fence. Like their neighbors in Bilin, the villagers demonstrate every week against the Fence. Generally, the army’s reactions in Ni’alin are even more violent than in Bilin. Four protesters have already been killed there.
In this particular incident, Lieutenant Colonel Omri Borberg took a Palestinian demonstrator, who was sitting on the ground, handcuffed and blindfolded, and suggested to one of his soldiers “let’s go aside and give him a rubber”. He ordered the soldier to shoot a rubber bullet, point blank.
For those who do not know: “rubber bullets” are steel bullets coated with rubber. From a distance, they cause painful injuries. At short range, they can be fatal. Officially, soldiers are allowed to use them at a minimum range of 40 meters.
Without hesitating, the soldier shot the prisoner in the foot, although this was a “manifestly illegal order”, which a soldier is obliged by army law to disobey. According to the classic definition of Judge Binyamin Halevy in the 1957 Kafr Kassem massacre case, the “black flag of illegality” is waving over such orders. The prisoner, Ashraf Abu-Rakhma, was hit and fell on the ground.
Veterans of the Ni’alin and Bilin demonstrations know that such and similar incidents happen all the time. But the Abu-Rakhma case was special for one reason: it was documented by a young local woman from a balcony near the crime scene with one of the cameras provided to villagers by B’tselem, an Israeli human rights organization.
Thus the Lt. Col. committed an unforgivable sin: he was photographed in the act. Generally, when peace activists disclose such misdeeds, the army spokesman reaches into his bag of lies and comes up with some mendacious statement or other (“Attacked the soldier”, “Tried to grab his weapon”, “Resisted arrest”). But even a talented spokesman has difficulties denying something that is clearly seen on film.
When the Military Advocate General decided to prosecute the officer and the soldier for “conduct unbecoming”, Abu-Rakhma and some Israeli human rights organizations applied to the Supreme Court. The judges advised the Advocate to change the indictment. He refused, and so the matter reached the court again.
This week, in a decision unusual for its severe language, the three justices (including a female judge and a religious one) found the “conduct unbecoming” charge itself unbecoming. They ordered the indictment of both officer and soldier on a far more serious criminal charge, in order to make it clear to all military personnel that mistreating a prisoner “is contrary to the spirit of the state and the army”.
After such a slap in the face, any decent person would have resigned in shame. But not Mendelblit. The bearded and kippa-wearing brigadier is a personal friend of the Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, and is expecting promotion to Major General at any moment.
Recently, the Advocate General refused to indict a senior officer who asserted in court, while testifying on behalf of a subordinate, that it is right to abuse Palestinians physically.
Ashkenazi owes a lot to his Advocate General, and for other reasons. Mendelblit has made a huge effort to cover up war crimes committed during the recent Gaza War, from Ashkenazi’s war plan itself to the crimes of individual soldiers. Nobody has been put on trial, nobody even seriously investigated.
ON THE day the Supreme Court decision concerning Mendelblit was published, another brigadier also made the headlines. Curiously enough, his first name is also Avichai (not a very common name), he is also bearded and wears a kippa.
In a speech before religious female soldiers, the Chief Rabbi of the army, Brigadier Avichai Rontzky, expressed the opinion that the army service of women is forbidden by the Jewish religion.
Since every Jewish young woman in Israel is bound by law to serve for two years, and women perform many essential jobs in the army, this was a seditious statement. But nobody was really surprised by this Rabbi.
Rontzky was chosen for this post by the former Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz. He knew what he was doing.
The Rabbi was not born into a religious family. Indeed, he was quite “secular”, a member of an elite army unit, when he saw the light and was “reborn”. Like many of this kind, he did not stop halfway but went to the furthest extreme, becoming a settler and setting up a Yeshiva (religious seminary) in one of the most fanatical settlements.
Rontzky is a man in the spirit of the person who appointed him. It will be remembered that, when asked what he felt when dropping a one-ton bomb on a residential area, Air Force General Halutz answered: “a slight bump on the wing”. In a discussion about whether to treat a wounded Palestinian on the Shabbat, Rontzky wrote that “the life of a goy is certainly valuable…but the Shabbat is more important.” Meaning: a dying goy should not be treated on Shabbat. Later he retracted. (In modern colloquial Hebrew, a goy is a non-Jew. The term has distinctly derogatory connotations.)
The Israeli army has something that is called the “Ethical Code”. True, the spiritual father of the Code, Professor Asa Kasher, did defend the atrocities of the “Molten Lead” operation, but Rontzky went much further: he stated unequivocally that “When there is a clash between…the Ethical Code and the Halakha (religious law), certainly the Halakha must be followed.”
In a publication distributed by him, it was said that “the Bible prohibits us from giving up even one millimeter of Eretz Israel”. In other words, the Chief Rabbi of the army, a Brigadier of the IDF, asserts that the official policy of the Israeli government – from Ariel Sharon’s “Separation” to the recent speech by Binyamin Netanyahu on a “demilitarized Palestinian State” – is a mortal sin.
But the peak was reached in a brochure that the army rabbinate distributed to soldiers during the Gaza War: “Exercising mercy towards a cruel enemy means being cruel towards innocent and honest soldiers. In war as in war.”
That was a clear incitement to brutality. It can be seen as a call for acts that constitute war crimes – the very same acts that his colleague, the Military Advocate General, has done everything possible to cover up.
NEITHER OF the two bearded brigadiers would have remained in office for a single day had they not enjoyed the full support of the Chief of Staff. The army is a hierarchical institution, and full responsibility for everything that happens falls squarely and entirely on the Chief.
Unlike his predecessors, Gaby Ashkenazi does not show off and does not speak in public frequently. If he has political ambitions, he is hiding them well. But during his term in office, the army has assumed a certain character, which is perfectly represented by these two officers.
This did not start, of course, with Ashkenazi. He is continuing – and perhaps intensifying – a tendency that started long ago, and that has been changing the Israeli army beyond recognition.
The founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, famously wrote in his book “Der Judenstaat”, the founding document of the movement: “We shall know how to keep our clerics in the temples, as we shall know how to keep our regular army in the barracks…they will not be allowed to interfere in the affairs of the state.”
Now the very opposite is happening: the rabbis have penetrated the army, the army officers come from the synagogues.
The hard core of the fanatical settlers, which is almost entirely composed of religious people (many of whom are “reborn Jews”) decided long ago to gain control of the army from within. In a systematic campaign, which is in full swing, they penetrate the officers’ corps from below - from the junior ranks to the middle to the senior ones. One can see their success in statistics: from year to year the number of kippa-wearing officers is growing.
When the Israeli army came into being, the officers’ corps was full of kibbutz members. Not only were kibbutzniks considered the elite of the new Hebrew society, which was based on values of morality and culture, and not only were they the first to volunteer for every national task, but there were also inbuilt “technical” reasons.
The nucleus of the army came from the pre-state Palmach. The Palmach companies constituted a fully-mobilized regular army, part of the underground military organization, the Haganah. They could exist and operate freely only in the kibbutzim, where their identity could be camouflaged. As a result, almost all the outstanding commanders in the 1948 war were from the Palmach, kibbutz members or close to them.
These did everything to imbue the new Defense Forces with the spirit of a pioneering, moral and humanist citizens army, the very opposite of an occupation army. True, the reality was always different, but the ideal was important as an aim to strive for. As I showed in my 1950 book, “The Other Side of the Coin”, our “purity of arms” has always been a myth. But the aspiration to be an army with humanist values was important. Atrocities were hidden or denied, because they were considered shameful and dishonoring our camp.
Nothing has remained of all this, except phrases. Since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, the character of the army has changed completely. The army that was founded in order to protect the state from external dangers has become an army of occupation, whose task is to oppress another people, crush their resistance, expropriate land, protect land robbers called settlers, man roadblocks, humiliate human beings every day. Of course, it is not the army alone that has changed, but also the state that gives the army its orders as well as its ongoing brainwashing.
In such an army, a process of natural selection takes place. People of discrimination, with a high moral standard, who detest such actions, leave sooner or later. Their place is taken by other types, people of different values or no values at all, “professional soldiers” who “just follow orders”.
Of course, one must beware of generalizing. In today’s army there are not a few people who believe that they are fulfilling a mission, for whom the Ethical Code is more than just a compilation of sanctimonious phrases. These people are disgusted by what they see. From time to time we hear their protests and see their disclosures. However, it is not they who set the tone, but types like Rontzky and Mendelblit.
THAT SHOULD worry us very much. We cannot treat the army as if it was a foreign realm that does not concern us. We cannot tell ourselves: “we don’t want to have anything to do with the army of a Moshe Ya’alon, a Shaul Mofaz, a Dan Halutz or a Gabi Ashkenazi.” We cannot turn our back on the problem. We must face it, because it is our problem.
The state needs an army. Even after achieving peace, we shall need a strong and effective army in order to protect the state until peace strikes deep roots and we can set up a regional body along the lines of the European Union, perhaps.
The army is us. Its character has an impact on all our lives, on the life of our state itself. It has already been said: “Israel is not a banana republic. It is a republic that slips on bananas.” And what bananas!
OMG! Did I just say that? NO, but Israel’s Minister of Construction and Housing did.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski
Source: Desert Peace
By Carlos Miller
His name is Juan E. Mendez and he has killed four people in his 25-year career, wounded a few others and was even jailed for a night on felony charges back in the 1990s.
But has been able to maintain a prosperous career at the Miami Police Department.
In 2002, he was named the Deadliest Cop in Florida. And it appears he still maintains that title although I am going to have to do some more research to confirm that.
Either way, he has cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands in settlements. Check out the story on NBCMiami.