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 Post subject: Public Enemies Question #15 - FBI Tactics
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:09 am 
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Were the tactics the FBI used in interrogation and capture of these criminals justified?



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:57 am 
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The only thing that really bothered me was that by the time of Little Bohemia, the capture of Bonnie and Clyde, and the shooting of Dillinger, it was obvious that the FBI weren't all that bothered about just gunning them down and asking questions later just to suit their bruised egos. Some of the Enemies would have faced the death penalty anyway, so setting things up so that there was a good chance of a shootout was just self-serving to me. In addition, most of the FBI's assumptions about who did what when and how things unfolded was usually off. To just gun them down without going through the process irked me.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:17 pm 
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Aaargh! Once again, this part of the story hits a little too close to home - Homeland Security that is - for my taste. Hauling people in because they look suspicious or because there's been a tip from some unsavory informer or because somebody's got a 'hunch' (or a grudge), just doesn't seem like good policy to me. Plus, considering the frequency of aliases being used by the gangsters, and by their unsavory informants, how could the FBI possibly know who they were talking to or about?! Interrogation is a tricky business - who wouldn't lie or try to fit the story to suit their own survival needs? Such tactics rarely get at the truth; they only serve to support an agenda.
Just my :twocents:
BB



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 Post subject: Re: Public Enemies Question #15 - FBI Tactics
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:31 pm 
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Liz wrote:
Were the tactics the FBI used in interrogation and capture of these criminals justified?


This kind of question really makes my head and results in me dithering a lot. I always think when it comes to ends and means, it depends which ends and which means. This time, though, I'll come off the fence.
No, they weren't justified, because they became what they had been employed to stop. Once you relinquish the moral high ground, it's a heck of a lot easier to continue rolling down that hill, than it is to climb back up to the top.

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But while the FBI's "socially positive" was on public display during 1933 and 1934, so too can the seeds of the FBI's later abuses be seen: the beating oof suspects; the "kidnapping" of Verne Miller's girlfriend, Vi Mathias; the conviction of Adam Richetti on perjured FBI testimony; and the arrest and trial of Roger Touhy for the Hamm kidnapping.The War on Crime bestowed upon Hoover's FBI something close to absolute power, and the day eventually came when Hoover's FBI was corrupted absolutely by it"
p545



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 Post subject: Re: Public Enemies Question #15 - FBI Tactics
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:52 pm 
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suec wrote:
No, they weren't justified, because they became what they had been employed to stop. Once you relinquish the moral high ground, it's a heck of a lot easier to continue rolling down that hill, than it is to climb back up to the top.

Quote:
But while the FBI's "socially positive" was on public display during 1933 and 1934, so too can the seeds of the FBI's later abuses be seen: the beating oof suspects; the "kidnapping" of Verne Miller's girlfriend, Vi Mathias; the conviction of Adam Richetti on perjured FBI testimony; and the arrest and trial of Roger Touhy for the Hamm kidnapping.The War on Crime bestowed upon Hoover's FBI something close to absolute power, and the day eventually came when Hoover's FBI was corrupted absolutely by it"
p545


Guantanamo Bay springs to mind.



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 Post subject: Re: Public Enemies Question #15 - FBI Tactics
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 2:35 pm 
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Endora,
Guantanamo Bay springs to mind.

Yes. Nothing really changes does it. Same ol, same ol.

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 Post subject: Re: Public Enemies Question #15 - FBI Tactics
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 3:05 pm 
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Endora wrote:
suec wrote:
No, they weren't justified, because they became what they had been employed to stop. Once you relinquish the moral high ground, it's a heck of a lot easier to continue rolling down that hill, than it is to climb back up to the top.

Quote:
But while the FBI's "socially positive" was on public display during 1933 and 1934, so too can the seeds of the FBI's later abuses be seen: the beating oof suspects; the "kidnapping" of Verne Miller's girlfriend, Vi Mathias; the conviction of Adam Richetti on perjured FBI testimony; and the arrest and trial of Roger Touhy for the Hamm kidnapping.The War on Crime bestowed upon Hoover's FBI something close to absolute power, and the day eventually came when Hoover's FBI was corrupted absolutely by it"
p545


Guantanamo Bay springs to mind.

Good analogy, the blonde. And great answers so far.

Pg. 451:
In a motion his lawyer filed two month later to suppress Galatas’s statements, Galatas laid out what a “vigorous physical interview” with the FBI entailed. In daylight hours he was kept manacled to a chair in Agent Magee’s apartment. He was given little or no food. He was not allowed to lie down, much less sleep. At night he was taken to the Bureau office. First he was given warnings: “You are going to tell us what we want to know…You haven’t any rights and you are not going to have counsel until we finish with you….We are going to get the story one way or another.” Then came the threats. “I ought to kill you now…You could easily be found dead on the street and all we would have to say is you tried to run.”………..At one point, Galatas was escorted to an open window. “You are a long way up,” an agent told him, “and you won’t bounce when you hit bottom.” Finally, Galatas said, the threats turned to beatings. Agents struck him in the face with their fists until he bled. His hair was pulled. He was beaten at the base of his neck until unconscious. He was beaten with rubber hoses and kicked in the ribs. Finally an agent standing outside the door entered and said, “That’s enough.”

Not much attention was paid to Galatas’s claims. But Purvis’s secretary, Doris Rogers confirmed that such things were happening. She said that they were rarely physical during the early months of the War on Crime. But as the pressure increased on them, they began beating certain prisoners in the 19th floor conference room.

And on pg. 289:


Frechette was taken in handcuffs to the Bankers Building, where agents pushed her onto a chair beneath a bright light in the conference room. All that night and into the next day they pelted her with questions. Frechette would say nothing about Dillinger. She begged them to let her sleep, but the agents refused. At one point, Purvis’s secretary, Doris Rogers, took her a sandwich and was appalled. Seventy years later Rogers still remembers what she did next. “After I left,” she recalls, “I came back and I told Melvin, “’This is inhumane.’” She then invited her to the ladies room to get some sleep; and apparently the agents complied.

These agents came a long way from the beginning when they didn’t even know how to use guns. Maybe they saw these criminals as not much more than vermin. So why not treat them as such? I don’t believe in torture or inhumane treatment—especially of accessories like Billie Frechette. I just don’t think it is warranted. But I imagine that this type of thing still goes on in various organizations.



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 7:26 pm 
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I find it totally unbelievable that the methods used to beat Galatas were all done to not leave permanent damage but pain. It's almost as if they had a book of rules on interrogation since they were so good at paperwork and following procedure. We are back to the end justifies the means.
Suec mentioned the moral highground and I think law enforcement must have that or they will be more feared than the criminal.
To take this thought to the next step. The moral highground means not putting the public in harms way just to catch a thief. To our credit today police have decided high-speed chases are not worth the risk to the officers or the public to catch the crook. Unfortunately I think this depends on how bad they want the bad guy or what he did. If he kills a police officer he knows the rules will be thrown out, not much different than what the FBI must have felt about the PE's



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 7:46 pm 
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It seems to me if you've got power but you haven't got the talent or the brains to do the job you're assigned to do, it's easy to become a bully. The FBI's moral high ground disappeared under the stress of not achieving their goals, namely to bring in/down the gangsters they'd previously hyped to the public as being dangerous, maniacal killers. Public Enemies. When they didn't accomplish their goals the way they envisioned they would/could/should, they fell back on the use of force and ineffective strong-arm tactics.
Hmmm...sounds familiar...
It surprises me the secretary spoke up in Billie's defense...leave it to a woman to have the guts to speak out against injustice, eh?



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 8:50 pm 
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Parlez wrote:
When they didn't accomplish their goals the way they envisioned they would/could/should, they fell back on the use of force and ineffective strong-arm tactics.
Hmmm...sounds familiar...
It surprises me the secretary spoke up in Billie's defense...leave it to a woman to have the guts to speak out against injustice, eh?

I know. I thought the same thing.

I also agree with you, BB, that when one doesn’t have the resources or skill to achieve his desired end, brute force is the easy out.



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:35 pm 
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It has to be frustrating for law enforcement when they think somebody has all the answers if only they can be persuaded to give them up!

A year or so ago a young man in our county was charged with murdering a couple of his relatives; he had a "motive" and he had confessed and he spent several months in jail. It turned out, he was not involved in the killings. He was marginal on the IQ scale and he was questioned with supposedly "acceptable techniques" that turned out to be flawed. In other words, the law enforcement officers had decided what the "truth" was, and they were going to obtain it from this fellow no matter what they had to do to get it from him. Sigh! :banghead: And now we, as tax payers, will face the possibility of compensating this young man for what was done to him and the time he spent in jail for a crime he didn't commit but confessed to under duress....... :banghead:

It seemed to me the FBI agents had decided what the truth was and they were going to force it from the suspects like Play-Doh out of a toy barber shop (my kids had one of those, that when you pressed a lever Plah-Doh "hair" oozed out of the toy person's head). That is wonderful technique if you really know what the truth is. If you are wrong, it doesn't matter how much torture you pile on somebody, you are still wrong!

Time to get this off my chest, because it has been bothering me for a big part of the discussion. Some of my family members have been lawyered out of situations where they were clearly guilty, and I wonder if it is fair to those guilty parties to allow them to continue on in the same behavior pattern that may endanger themselves and other folks. Like DUI. The spirit of the law gets swallowed up in the letter. Bad for everyone. So when I look at the 33-34 time period, I have divided feelings.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about the 30's and what law enforcement folks did back then and our modern day rules. It seems to me that too many lawyers write the rules, and too many lawyers benefit from the rules.($$$$$$$$) There are too many cases where hairs are split over a technicality that has nothing to do with right or wrong, guilt or innocence. That didn't happen in Dillinger's day. I just haven't quite figured out if that was a better system or not.

Billie obviously had information about Dillinger. I am not sure where the line should have been drawn. She withheld information and that was wrong. If she could have been persuaded to diivulge what she knew it seems like it should have been a good thing. She did not deserve to be treated like a princess.........I don't know that torturing her was right

Obviously I am torn!!!!!!!


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:03 am 
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nebraska wrote:

Billie obviously had information about Dillinger. I am not sure where the line should have been drawn. She withheld information and that was wrong. If she could have been persuaded to diivulge what she knew it seems like it should have been a good thing. She did not deserve to be treated like a princess.........I don't know that torturing her was right
Obviously I am torn!!!!!!!


I've always been torn about this issue. :mort3:



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:15 am 
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You make a good point Nebraska. Removed from the events by years its easy to read all the errors and see how humanly flawed our system was (and probably still is) You remind us that from the point of view of the victims families or fellow officers who were friends with the slain officers no longer with the FBI that no amount of aggressive interrogation would have been enough. It is why people who are too close to a situation are not allowed to work on the case. I doubt if that was the case then. Those officers knew they were the only thing between catching the criminal and them getting away scott free. The technicalities of the law you mention would have encouraged not bringing anyone in for trial.

Like you Nebraska, I have some bad feelings about the legal system not doing their job well. Its hard to be impartial when its about family.



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:32 am 
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I think it shows how fluid law enforcement is ~ it changes with the times and with public sentiment. The pendulum has certainly swung in the opposite direction from the '30's, making it seem sometimes like the folks in law enforcement are the ones wearing the handcuffs.
However, my feeling is that it's far better to err on the side of caution, and humane treatment, and individual rights when it comes to tactics like interrogation techniques, surveillance, and evidence gathering. In the long run, it protects the innocent and therefore serves the common good.
Just my :twocents: (again)



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:48 am 
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Parlez wrote:
I think it shows how fluid law enforcement is ~ it changes with the times and with public sentiment. The pendulum has certainly swung in the opposite direction from the '30's, making it seem sometimes like the folks in law enforcement are the ones wearing the handcuffs.
However, my feeling is that it's far better to err on the side of caution, and humane treatment, and individual rights when it comes to tactics like interrogation techniques, surveillance, and evidence gathering. In the long run, it protects the innocent and therefore serves the common good.
Just my :twocents: (again)


I agree Parlez. My point was that it was good to keep personal feelings out of law and order for just those reasons. They are not impartial. The law has to be impartial and as said earlier take the high road.



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