Sunday, October 22, 2006

Obfuscation

ob·fus·cate

TRANSITIVE VERB: ob·fus·cat·ed , ob·fus·cat·ing , ob·fus·cates
To make so confused or opaque as to be difficult to perceive or understand: "A great effort was made . . .to obscure or obfuscate the truth" (Robert Conquest).
The quote by Stalin’s biographer Robert Conquest used above to put the word “obfuscate” in context could easily be applied to the great efforts made over the past week to obscure or obfuscate the truth revealed by the recent airing of ‘60 Minutes.’ Obfuscator-in-Chief, Bob Ashley, began the propaganda campaign a week ago with preemptive strikes, and continued with his distortions in the wake of ’60 Minutes.’ Cash Michaels followed suit two days ago with his return to the Hoax coverage after a brief absence. Not surprisingly, Nifong’s “running mate” Steve Monks hopped on the obfuscation train in an apparent attempt to disguise his campaign intentions.

In response to show teasers released by ‘60 Minutes’ last week, Ashley’s Herald Sun continued its encouragement of Nifong’s Hoax by presenting the false argument, made by City Manager Patrick Baker, that “outcry witness,” Kim Roberts, had wavered from the statement she initially gave to police.
"If the dancer says one thing to our officers and another to '60 Minutes,' it raises questions about her credibility and the credibility of the entire case," Baker said. "The Police Department is at the whim of the evidence given to them. ... If people have given the Durham Police Department the wrong information, it's certainly going to affect the DA's ability to prosecute the case."

“But, he cautioned, "Keep in mind these men were indicted by a grand jury. ... It wouldn't be the first time an indictment has occurred based on information that is later proven to be false. I think justice needs to be served. I don't want anyone to go through indictments when they're innocent. If the witness or the victim is not telling the truth, that's going to come out."
This week, Mr. Ashley continued his campaign to distort truth by presenting a factually challenged editorial that Duke Law Professor James Coleman described as:
“Your editorial about the recent "60 Minutes" report mischaracterizes both what the district attorney's role has been in the Duke lacrosse rape case and why some of us have criticized him. Like much of the media hype that has surrounded the case, your editorial turns the case into an ugly caricature by suggesting that the decision to prosecute the Duke students was made by a valiant prosecutor on a white horse who is defending a helpless black woman who "ranks near the bottom of society."
Additional criticism of Nifong’s number one cheerleader and his recent propaganda can be found here:
Cash Michaels returned to the Hoax Blogosphere with an article questioning the fairness of the ‘60 Minutes’ presentation and a visit to the Talk Left discussion board. In fairness to Mr. Michaels, he does present opinions favorable to and critical of the ‘60 Minutes’ offering. Beginning with a much appreciated reference to this blog, Cash notes that the ‘60 Minutes’ episode was powerful yet unconvincing to some.
“The widely viewed report, anchored by veteran CBS News correspondent Ed Bradley, has been generally applauded by supporters of the “Duke Three.” … The CBS broadcast was certainly powerful, and yet, it didn’t convince everybody.”
Ironically, Mr. Michaels presents the arguments of the unconvinced, which appear centered around the possibility that ‘60 Minutes’ did not present all of the available evidence, and the suggestion that Mr. Nifong may be laying in wait to ambush the defendants at trial. What makes this argument most ironic is that Mr. Michaels previously has presented essentially the same arguments made in the ‘60 Minutes’ piece with regard to the appearance of prosecutorial misconduct, of a flawed police investigation, and of pandering to the Black community for votes, albeit less definitively.
“Still, the certainty Nifong and the police were speaking with was not being undergirded by the “strong evidence” they had hoped for. And Nifong’s racial pronouncements, based, in part, by what the accuser, Kim Roberts, and a next door neighbor alleged was said by some of the lacrosse players, seemed more like pandering to the passions of potential Black voters for a tight three-way May primary race, critics charge, than a sincere view of the case.”
Adding to both the irony and the obfuscation, Mr. Michaels presents the suggestions of hidden evidence made by Al McSurely, head of the NAACP's Legal Redress Committee, and NCCU Law Professor Irving Joyner, who is monitoring the case as requested by the state chapter of the NAACP.
“…said Chapel Hill civil rights attorney Al McSurely, who also serves as chairman of the NC NAACP Legal Redress Committee, “The prosecution hasn’t shown any of its hole cards yet, and I don’t think it will until trial.”...The NCCU law professor [Joyner] also agrees with attorney Al McSurely that all of the admittedly weak evidence so far seen by the media “does not mean it is the only information prosecutors have available to them.”…In fact, Joyner adds, there is a lot of evidence and witness testimony that simply isn’t reduced to writing…“I’ve been practicing law long enough to know that what ends up in a report isn’t necessarily everything that’s there, “ he said, adding that, for instance, clarification of evidence or information in a criminal case is not required to be part of the discovery package mandated from the prosecution to the defense…“Just because [evidence] has been released, doesn’t mean that’s it,” Prof. Joyner said.”
The irony of these statements is the contradiction between the suggestion that the District Attorney is withholding evidence, and the fact that North Carolina’s Open Discovery Law expressly prohibits Mr. Nifong from doing so. The additional irony is that the argument for the defense of Mr. Nifong’s prosecutorial misconduct (in the way of violating due process and abusing prosecutorial discretion) is the equally ethically challenged non-disclosure of evidence.

“In his article, Michaels faults 60 Minutes for not interviewing Joyner or McSurely on camera. Based on what they told Michaels, I’m disinclined to challenge 60 Minutes’ judgment: both men seemed to suggest that the prosecution hasn’t had a chance to present its case, and that Nifong must have something. As the duo knows, however, North Carolina has an Open Discovery Law…Michaels’ article substantially advances what I consider one of the most under-reported elements of this story—the decision of the North Carolina NAACP to abandon 70 years of the national organization’s principles on criminal justice issues in its response to this case…In their interviews with Michaels, McSurely and Joyner offered bland statements on the need to defer to prosecutorial judgment. Such remarks might seem commonplace in a discussion of criminal procedure in Alberto Gonzalez’s Justice Department, but are jarring coming from representatives of the NAACP. (Joyner, it’s worth noting, wasn’t always so blasé about the need to uphold civil liberties.)”
“In his interview with "60 Minutes," Professor Coleman reminded people that the very tactics that Nifong has been using in the Duke case are the tactics that can and will be used to wrongfully convict poor blacks who cannot afford the kind of defense that the Duke athletes are able to have. Does the NAACP wish to set a legal precedent that literally will undo everything positive that is has done in the arena of criminal law?”

“That is a hard question to ask, but if I read the case correctly, apparently people like Joyner are so desirous of gaining a conviction of three innocent whites that they are willing to sacrifice the lives and freedom of blacks who will be tried in future cases. That should tell us everything we need to know about Irving Joyner, and about the NAACP. If this organization wishes to lose all its credibility just to railroad through a wrongful conviction, then it is an organization that has lost all of its moral bearings. Indeed, it is obvious that the NAACP really had no problem with Jim Crow justice, or at least a modern-day version of it. That is most chilling of all.”
Completing our triumvirate of obfuscators, Nifong’s “running mate” Steve Monks has stooped to a new low in campaign tactics. Unable to win enough public support to earn a ballot spot with his unsuccessful petition drive this summer, Monks filed to run as a write in candidate in August. Monks decision to formally launch a write in campaign coincidentally came on the very day that the Committee to Recall Nifong - Vote Cheek filed for its PAC. Under the guise of running against DA Nifong, the Monks campaign’s public and private statements give the impression that Mr. Monks is running alongside the ethically challenged interim District Attorney and not in opposition to him.

Apparently looking to advantage itself of the splash made by the ‘60 Minutes’ piece, and to cut into the momentum the story provided to the Recall Nifong - Vote Cheek effort, Monks’ campaign presented a disingenuous plea to Duke students in a guest editorial that appeared in yesterday’s edition of The Chronicle. The pitch made in the essay written by Monks’ Senior Campaign Advisor Cliff Brandt, echoes the manipulative overtures made by both Monks and Brandt in late night stalking of Duke Lacrosse players at campus bars and manipulative emails that followed.

The introduction to Brandt’s editorial gives away the apparent true nature of the Monks’ Campaign.
“If you have decided to vote for Lewis Cheek, are considering voting for him or are otherwise supporting his candidacy for Durham District Attorney, please read on.”
Clearly, Steve Monks is not campaigning against Mike Nifong. “Read on“, Brandt pleads, not if you support Nifong, but if you support Lewis Cheek. While it might make sense for the third wheel to take aim at Lewis Cheek (who is clearly the front runner), Mr. Monks appears intent on manipulation designed to simply split the anti-Nifong vote to the benefit of the candidate, DA Nifong, that he pretends to campaign against. Going on to imply, falsely, that Steve Monks represents the only chance for the charges to be dismissed against the Duke Three, Mr. Brandt offers the ridiculous suggestion that Governor Easley is politically vested in the prosecution of the defendants. Despite the fact that Governor Easley is prohibited from seeking another term as Governor, Brandt offers that the Governor will desire to follow through with the false prosecution in order to protect his political power. Despite the fact that the Governor has expressed nothing more than disinterest and uncertainty about pursuing another political office, Brandt argues that his political life is somehow attached to continued prosecution of the Duke Hoax (which Brandt prefers to refer to as the “Lacrosse Rape”). Despite the fact that Monks and Brandt know full well that attaching oneself to the prosecution of the Hoax is political suicide, they prey on the fears and emotions of the Duke students at large, just as they had done directly with the lacrosse teammates of the accused.

Knowing full well that his campaign allows Mr. Nifong a slim possibility of victory, Mr. Monks persists with his campaign and has the gall to suggest that voting for him offers the best opportunity for the Hoax to be dropped. Mr. Monks must realize that his withdrawal from the District Attorney’s race provides the best opportunity for the removal of Nifong from office, yet he pretends that voting for him affords the only possibility to save the Duke Three. With the knowledge that a vote for him is the effective equivalent of a vote for Nifong, Mr. Monks shamelessly attempts to prey upon those who are most concerned about the fate of the innocent three.

Mr. Brandt concludes his essay with perhaps the most ironic twist of words we have witnessed in the course of this continuing drama. By invoking the names of the wrongfully persecuted Duke Three in this manipulative effort, Nifong's allies attempt to turn the sympathy of those concerned for the fate of the three innocent young men into votes than would ultimately serve their persecutor. Stooping to this political low reveals the moral deficiency of the Monks campaign which can only serve to help Nifong's retain his office.

Considering that Monks’ campaign manager, Charlotte Woods conveniently switched her party affiliation from Republican to “unaffiliated” twenty six days before the May primary in order to vote in the Democratic primary, and considering that she announced this switch at the “All Interested Republicans” luncheon which featured Mike Nifong as the guest speaker, it would appear that this write in, split the vote, campaign is not Mr. Monks' first attempt to help Nifong retain his office.
"Charlotte Woods stood before a luncheon at Hope Valley Country Club and hesitantly admitted that for 26 days this year she will not be a Republican. Woods will switch her party to "unaffiliated" long enough to cast a vote in the Democratic primaries in May…When Woods announced her decision at a Wednesday meeting of a group called "All Interested Republicans" some in the audience murmured…The featured speaker at the luncheon was Democratic candidate for district attorney, Mike Nifong.”
At her Blog, Ruth Sheehan asks whether anyone has seen Brandt and Nifong in a room together. It would appear that her question is quite valid.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.heraldsun.com/durham/4-780778.html

Nifong now has 2 out of 3 PACS.

Anonymous said...

The black PAC had supported Bishop in the primary. And Bishop came last.

Anonymous said...

^^ Thank you for pointing that out..

gc said...

Excellent article Liestoppers. I was unaware of Charlotte Woods switching parties. (BTW, is she related to Professor Woods?)

"Some men change their party for the sake of principals; others change their principals for the sake of their party."
-Winston Churchill

gc said...

Shame on the Durham Committee for the Affairs of Black People. Where were they when Elmostafa was arrested? Where were they for the Cook at Blincos? Where were they when Mr. Harris was waiting for DNA tests to be performed to find the murderers of his son and 3 other young men.

If Nifong is so great why did they support Nifong last time around?
The Committee's endorsement used to mean a lot in Durham and a candidate could not win without their endorsement. But look what happened with Bishop and hopefully it happens again.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that Charlotte Woods and Steve Monks were given the right to distribute campaign material at the homecoming football game when DSED were told that they could not register voters. Charlotte Woods is a political hack who has even espoused the theory that Cheek has a deal with Nifong to give Nifong his votes should Cheek win. This isn't rumor. Charlotte Woods is actually making these comments in Durham and elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the black PAC. Since the guy they supported in a primary came last, maybe they just like supporting a losing candidate.

Anonymous said...

Cliff Brandt apparently left a comment at Durham in Wonderland:

Horrifying - 8:47 PM post

I wonder if he has the guts and integrity to answer his critics.

justice58 said...

anonymous 9:50

In your comment about the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People:

I don't believe that Elmostafa is an African American...not that any of that matters. But, the most important thing is that the committee has endorsed Mike Nifong. That is hugh! Can you spell VICTORY?? The committee is encouraging the voters to vote a straight Democratic ticket. So cry on about your hatred for Mike Nifong... it's falling on deaf ears. Game over!

justice58 said...

Let me clear this up:

I did not set up the "Justice 4 Two Sisters". I cannot take that credit. But, I will tell you that I support whoever is responsible for the site.

Anonymous said...

On other sites, Justice 58 also refers to James Coleman and Ed Bradley as "House Negroes" and "Uncle Toms". To her, anyone that doesn't believe these men are guilty are liars and/or have betrayed their race. Cases should be tried on facts, not emotional outbursts. This poster has ranted on other sites about the injustices of the Old South and how her grandmother was mistreated and so forth. While injustices in the past are tragic, these young men can't and shouldn't make up for past injustices.
I worried when Court TV closed their message boards that the other message boards would be flooded with their trolls. Sure enough, that is exactly what has happened. Look over at Talkleft and you will find the "new" members over there are from Court TV attempting to hijack another message board. They seldom stick to the topic and never answer questions with facts. Talkleft is going to have her hands full attempting to maintain the integrity of the message board with that crowd around.

Anonymous said...

Well, LieStoppers are pretty good about banning trolls on their message board. Post away.

Anonymous said...

Are they renaming that blog "justice for one sister" yet?
Cause I don't think they like Kim Roberts anymore.
Something about her skirt didn't appeal to them.

Anonymous said...

the decision to back bishop was disputed at the black pac meeting before the primary. some people were very angry he got the endorsement. mayor bell sent some money to nifong's campaign and came to his pre-primary fundraiser because he did not agree with backing bishop. bishop did indeed get a lot of the black vote but nifong got a very significant portion and this hurt bishop. nifong especially got more black votes than freda black in the precincts near nccu and that is how he won but the margin was very close because bishop was also in the race. there is no bishop in the race now and cheek and monks are not popular in the black community. nifong also has some white community support as well as the other pac endorsing him is predominately white. the big conservative white pac declined to endorse anyone because of dissension in their group about the three candidates.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but isn't the name of the committee The Durham Committe for the Affairs of Black People? I don't see the word African American in there. If a group is going to be concerned about people of a certain race, that is fine. In fact it is a good thing. But you don't pick and choose the concern for a slut over a hard working black man just because it suits your politcal agenda.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't just Kim's skirt. A woman her age should have enough sense to wear proper undergarments on national TV.

justice58 said...

Anonymous 12:07

You are a liar

I never called Ed Bradley any names. None whatsoever. I did say that he was under CBS's rule and probably had to what CBS's Duke Alumni told him to.

Don't make up any lies about my posts. If you're going to quote me, at least be truthful.

If it was an accident then, I forgive you.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like some "wannabelievers" in Big Momma dresses have invaded this site.

Cliff said...

1:49 PM

I’ve got more guts and integrity in one-tenth of my smallest fingernail right after I've clipped it tight than you’ve got in your entire body, hiding behind an anonymous posting and questioning another man’s guts and integrity.

As to my response, you’ll find it here: A Response to the Sort of Drivel That's Been Passing for Thought These Days.

Anonymous said...

Cliff, maybe the reason some might question your intentions is because it seems that Mr. Monks is campaigning only against Lewis Cheek, and not against Mike Nifong. It is extremely unlikely Mr. Monks has a chance of winning this election, as Mr. Monks does not have enough support form the citizens of Durham county. Given the situation, how can you continue with the campaign, and claim you care about the lacrosse players? Even if you have the best intentions, by Mr. Monks remaining in this election, the chances of Nifong’s win go up. According to you, that is not what you are trying to accomplish. So, why does Mr. Monks remain?

Cliff said...

My thoughts on this blog's "analysis" of my recent editorial, "Defeating Nifong - Where Does Our Real Victory Lie?", as well as on related matters, can be found at KC Johnson's exponentially more honest blog, Durham-in-Wonderland, specifically at If You Can't Figure Out the Headline, It's Time to Stop Blogging and Head Back to High School (see 2:11 AM, today).

Anonymous said...

My thoughts on the subject. Cliff, maybe you can tell us how Mr. Monks can possibly plan to win this election, when he is a write in republican candidate in a predominantly democratic county?
Your strategy of trying to take votes from Lewis Cheek hardly seem like a valid election strategy, and yet you claim to care for the lacrosse players. Pardon me if something does not jive for me.