The Legalities of Shooting People

By: Larry Correia
Monster Hunter Nation

I’m writing this blog post because I’ve seen a lot of really ignorant comments from a lot of otherwise intelligent folks about some recent shootings. It is really easy to be swayed by knee jerk emotion, but luckily we live in America, where we have a justice system based on evidence and the rule of law. I’m not going to get into the Brown shooting too much because I wasn’t on the grand jury and haven’t read the evidence presented in that particular case, but I’m going to explain how use of force laws work so I don’t have to keep repeating myself.

This will vary state by state, but these are the fundamentals for most places in the US. There are some legal differences between police and regular folks shooting people, but basically the rules are similar. I’m not an attorney in your state, and this is not meant as legal advice for your state. Again, this isn’t meant as legal advice, rather as a primer to get people to not be so damned ignorant about the fundamentals of how the law works.

And the law usually does work.

I’m going to keep this simple. Before I became a novelist, I was a Utah Concealed Weapons instructor for many years. I’m condensing a few hours of lecture and discussion into one article.  Again, this will vary state by state.

First off we must understand some terms.

Lethal Force is exercising an action against someone which may potentially take their life. If you shoot somebody and they don’t die, you still exercised Lethal Force. If you shoot somebody in the leg or arm, legally that is still Lethal Force, and contrary to the movies, you can still die if get shot in the arm or the leg (but we train to shoot for center of mass, more on why later).

Serious Bodily Harm (often called Grievous Bodily Harm) is any injury that is potentially life altering or life threatening. Rape is serious bodily harm. A beating is serious bodily harm. Anything that may render you unconscious is serious bodily harm.

Reasonable Man – I will often refer to this. The question isn’t whether the shooter perceives themselves to be justified, but whether a “reasonable man” would perceive you to be justified. Contrary to popular opinion, you can’t just say “he was coming right at me!” and be justified in shooting somebody. The evidence will be examined and the question will be if you made the assumptions a reasonable man would make, and acted in a manner which seems reasonable based on that evidence. This is where the jury comes in, because they are a group of reasonable people who are going to look at your actions and your situation and make a call.  Basically, do your actions make sense to them? Would they believe similar things in the same situation?

To be legally justified in using lethal force against somebody you need to meet the following criteria.

  1. They have the Ability to cause you serious bodily harm.
  2. They have the Opportunity to cause you serious bodily harm.
  3. They are acting in a manner which suggests they are an Immediate Threat of serious bodily harm.

If your encounter fits these three criteria, then you are usually legally justified in using lethal force.

Let’s break each one down a bit.

Ability just means that they have the power to hurt you. A gun or a knife can obviously cause serious bodily harm. However, a person does not need a weapon to seriously hurt you. Any blow to the head sufficient to render you unconscious or cause internal bleeding is sufficient to kill you.

Opportunity means that they can reach you with their ability. A hundred yards away with a gun, they can still hit you, so they have the opportunity. A hundred yards away with a knife, pipe, or chain, and they aren’t a danger to you. However, thirty feet away with a contact weapon is easily within range to cause most people serious bodily harm before they are capable of using a firearm to neutralize the threat. I’ll talk more about distances later.

Immediacy (often called Jeopardy) means that they are acting in a manner that suggests they intend to cause serious bodily harm right now. Somebody can have the ability and opportunity, but if a reasonable person wouldn’t believe that they are acting like a threat, then they aren’t one.


Now let’s break this down in more depth.

Under Ability you will see self-defense experts refer to Disparity of Force, this is where there is such a physical disparity between two individuals that Ability is assumed. I’m 6’5, 300, and I’ve rendered people unconscious with my bare hands. If I’m unarmed, but I am attacking an average sized person, and they shoot me, then a reasonable person could assume that there was a disparity of force, and they were justified in shooting me. Usually when a man attacks a woman, or a fit strong young person attacks a frail old person, then disparity of force is assumed.

However, you don’t have to be bigger or stronger (it only helps convince the reasonable people you are justified). Regardless of size, if you knock someone down and are sitting on them and raining blows on their head, then you are demonstrating the ability to cause them serious bodily harm. A small woman could brain a big strong man over the head with a rock and proceed to beat them, thus demonstrating ability.

A person doesn’t need to even demonstrate that he’s got the ability, he just needs to act in a manner that would suggest to a reasonable person that he did. If you tell somebody, “Give me your purse or I’ll shoot you,” but you don’t show them your gun, a reasonable person would assume that you wouldn’t make that threat if you didn’t have the ability. You don’t need to wait to see the muzzle flash to confirm their gun is real. That’s suicidal.

On the distance someone can reasonably be a threat with just a contact weapon, you’d be surprised. It is easy to underestimate how much distance a human being can cover in a very short period of time. During my classes I used a series of role playing scenarios to demonstrate various issues and test the shoot/no shoot decision making process. While playing an aggressor I routinely covered in excess of twenty feet and caused serious bodily harm before most students could even draw their gun, let alone aim.

Gun people have all heard of the Tueller drill, which demonstrated that the average person could cover about 21 feet before the average police officer could draw and fire a shot (and as we’ll see later, one shot doesn’t often mean much, assuming it hits something vital). That’s average. Basically, without going into a whole lot of detail, the reasonable people are usually stunned to learn how much distance can be covered to provide opportunity.

The last one is the most complicated. Say a man with a gun has Ability and Opportunity, but if he is just minding his own business with the gun in the holster, slung, or being carried in a non-threatening manner then he’s not acting as an immediate threat. But if he is acting like he is going to use it or waving it around, now he is acting like an immediate threat.  Again, it all comes down to how a reasonable person would perceive it.

This is why it is silly when anti-gun people start ranting about how they’re justified in harming people who are openly carrying firearms on their person. Nope. #3, unless they’re acting in a manner that suggests they’re an immediate threat, then they’re fine. Otherwise it would be legally justifiable to shoot everybody like me that shops at the Xtra Large Casual Male outlet because of disparity of force. You can’t just have Ability or Opportunity, they must be acting in a manner which a reasonable person would take to be a threat.

You’ve got to have all three.

In most states these rules apply to yourself or a third person being the potential recipient of serious bodily harm, however I believe there are still some states where it is only for you, and not a bystander. Some states suck.

You’ll hear people talking (usually ignorantly) about Castle Doctrine or Duty to Retreat. Some states require you to try and flee before exercising Lethal Force, and it allows the prosecution to question your inability to flee. Some states require you to flee your own home. Most states don’t have that.

Not that escaping or avoiding isn’t a great idea if given the opportunity, but it sucks to have a prosecutor second guessing your running ability.


Violent encounters are a triangle. There are three aspects to every violent encounter, the legal side (the decisions that keep you out of jail), the tactical side (the decisions that keep you alive), and the moral side (the decisions that let you sleep at night). These don’t always all match up neatly. There are times when you can be totally legally justified but tactically stupid.

Say somebody breaks into your house. Before you’ve even seen them you can make some assumptions, they came into your house while you are home, they probably wouldn’t do that if they didn’t have the ability, now they’ve certainly got the opportunity, and their presence is an immediate threat. So you’re legally justified, however you still need to identify the target before firing to make sure that it is actually a threat, and not some mistaken identity shooting, your drunk teenager, or the neighbors autistic kid.

I worked primarily with regular folks, and a little with the police. Their triangle is different. There are situations where a permit holder might be legally justified in getting involved, but tactically they are probably going to get killed, so their best bet is to run away. In fact, in most scenarios avoidance is the best answer, and in the vast majority of real life violent encounters involving a permit holder, no shots are fired, because simply producing the gun is enough to deter the attacker.

One thing the permit holders I taught needed to get through their heads was that they weren’t cops. Their permit was simply a license to carry a concealed firearm in order to defend themselves from violence. Luckily the vast majority of permit holders get that.


Cops on the other hand are expected to respond to violent people and apprehend them. As a result police have what is known as the Use of Force Pyramid.  That means that they are to respond with the lowest amount of force necessary to stop any given situation. That is why they are expected to use tasers or pepper spray before they use physical force or guns. Their goal is to stop the situation, and they’ll try to respond with one level more force than the person they’re trying to stop. However, and this is a BIG damned however, just like the rules for regular people above, if they are in immediate danger of serious bodily harm, then they are justified in using lethal force.

Tasers and pepper spray are not magic. Most people’s understanding of these tools comes from TV and TV isn’t reality. Tasers don’t knock you unconscious. They stream electricity through your body which causes your muscles to lock up for a moment, and if the circuit ends (the tiny wires break or the barbs fall out) then you are back to normal and it is game on. (and I’m talking about air tasers, the little stun guns or “drive tasers” are useless toys. They feel like being pinched with a red hot pair of pliers, which sucks, but if you’re tough enough you can play tag with the damned things). Pepper spray hurts and makes it hard to see and breathe, but you can build up a resistance to it (ask anybody in prison) and it can also bounce back on the user. In reality these tools work sometimes and sometimes they don’t. You’ll note that when you see cops dealing with actual violent types and they use the less lethal tools, there is usually cop #2 standing there with a real gun in case Plan A doesn’t work.

Then there is going hands on, “pain compliance techniques” (arm bars, wrist locks, and wrestling until you say enough of this crap and let them put the cuffs on) but like anything in life that requires physical force one human being to another, these things are dangerous too, and bad things might happen. Bones break, arteries are cut off, people get hurt, sometimes they die.

But the cops are going to try to respond to their subject a level above what the subject is using, until they surrender or comply. Which means that if they think you are going to lethal force, they are going to go to lethal force, and the time it takes to switch gears is measured in fractions of a second.

When a cop shoots somebody, depending on the state, it now goes before whatever they use for Reasonable People.

If you try to wrestle away a cop’s gun, that demonstrates Ability, Opportunity, and Immediacy, because right after you get ahold of that firearm, the reasonable assumption is going to be that you’re intending to use it. If you fight a cop, and he thinks you’re going to lethal force, he’s going to repeatedly place bullets into your center of mass until you quit.

Everybody who carries a gun, whether they be police or not, are trained to shoot for the middle of the largest available target, which is normally the center of mass, and to do so repeatedly until the threat stops. Contrary to the movies, pistols aren’t death rays. A pistol bullet simply pokes a hole. Usually when somebody is stopped by being shot it is A. Psychological (as in holy crap! I’m shot! That hurt! I surrender), but if they keep going it is until B. Physiological (as in a drop in blood pressure sufficient for them to cease hostilities) If that hole poked is in a vital organ, then the attacker will stop faster. If it isn’t in a vital organ, they will stop slower. Pistols do not pick people up, nor do they throw people back. Pistol bullets are usually insufficiently powerful to break significant bones.

Shooting people who are actively trying to harm you while under pressure is actually very hard, which is why people often miss. This is why you aim for the biggest available target and continue shooting until they stop doing whatever it is that caused you to shoot them in the first place.

You’ll hear ignorant people say “why didn’t you just shoot them in the arm/leg?” That is foolishness. Legally and tactically, they’re both still lethal force. Only if they bleed to death in a minute because you severed their femoral artery, they’re not any less dead, only they had one more minute to continue trying to murder you. Basically limb hits are difficult to pull off with the added bonus of being terribly unreliable stoppers.


In a fatal shooting you’ll often hear someone say “there was only one side to the story told.” That is false.

In the aftermath of any shooting, whether it is police or the general public, there is going to be an investigation. There will be evidence gathered. There will be witnesses. There will be an autopsy. There is always multiple sides to any shooting, even if it is just the autopsy results.

Contrary to the media narrative, most police officers don’t want to shoot anyone, regardless of their skin color. Those of us who carry guns don’t want to shoot anybody. One big reason is that because after we had to make that awful shoot/no-shoot decision in a terrifying fraction of a second, then hundreds of people are going to spend thousands of man hours gathering evidence, then they are going to argue about our actions, analyze our every move, guess at our thoughts, and debate whether we were reasonable or not, all from the comfort of an air conditioned room, and if they get hungry, they’ll order pizza. When all is said and done, these people will have a million times longer to decide if what you did in those seconds was justified or not. No pressure.

Each state is different, but if there is any question as to the justification of the shooting, there is usually some form of grand jury, and if there is sufficient question or evidence of wrong doing, then the shooter will be indicted.

Now, an argument can be made as to how shootings—especially those committed by law enforcement officers who are expected to exercise a higher standard of care—should be investigated. However, no matter how the shooting is investigated, it should be done through our constitutional protections and our agreed upon legal system. No one should ever be convicted through the court of public opinion or the media.

In ten years of studying violent encounters and learning everything I could about every shooting I could, I never once found a newspaper article that got all the facts right. Usually they weren’t even close. In that same time period I offered free training in Use of Force to reporters or detractors, and never once had any of them take me up on it.

You may believe that grand juries are too soft on police involved shootings. That may be a valid argument. You may believe that prosecutors are too lenient on police officers because they both work for the government and there is an existing relationship between the prosecutors and the police. That may be a valid argument. Burning down Little Ceasers isn’t the answer.

There are stupid cops, and there are cops who make mistakes. As representatives of an extremely powerful state, they should be held to a higher standard. Just because somebody works for the government doesn’t make them infallible, and if they screw up and kill somebody for a stupid reason, they should have the book thrown at them, but damn if it doesn’t help to know what actually happened before you form up your angry lynch mob!

Violent encounters are complex, and the only thing they have in common is that they all suck. Going into any investigation with preconceived notions is foolish. Making decisions as to right or wrong before you’ve seen any of the evidence is asinine. If you are a nationally elected official, like say for example the President of the United States, who repeatedly feels the need to chime in on local crime issues before you know any facts, you are partly to blame for the resulting unrest, and should probably go have a Beer Summit.

You can’t complain about the bias in our justice system against some groups, and how the state unfairly prosecutes some more than others, and then immediately demand doing away with the burden of proof, so the state can more freely prosecute. Blacks are prosecuted more and sentenced more harshly, so your solution is to remove more of the restraints on the state’s prosecutorial powers, and you think that’ll make things better? You want people to be prosecuted based on feelings rather than evidence, and you think that’ll help? The burden of proof exists as a protection for the people from the state. We have a system for a reason. Angry mob rule based on an emotional fact-free version of events isn’t the answer.

So my request is this, at least learn how stuff works before forming a super strong opinion on it.


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May You Live in Interesting Times

Arlene from Israel

This phrase is usually identified as an “old Chinese curse,” while in fact it is neither old nor Chinese in origin.  What it is, clearly, is ironic, which is why I am using it:  Our “interesting” times are often overwhelming – filled with turmoil and confusion.  Oi! Could we do with a bit of “uninteresting” times.


I would like to share some news that reflects back on what I wrote yesterday:

The vote in the Knesset on the “Jewish state” law has been tabled for at least a week and a good deal of the tension has dissipated.  Part of the reason for this, I suspect, is that neither Livni nor Lapid – both of whom said they’d leave the coalition rather than support the law – are eager for the new elections that their leaving the coalition might spark.  Polls indicate that they would both garner fewer mandates than they have now – which in Livni’s case might mean her disappearance from the Knesset. Talk is cheap.  (Although I would not be sorry to see her gone from the Knesset.)


The US State Department did offer its (unsolicited) opinion on the law.  A spokesman said: “Israel is a Jewish and democratic state and all its citizens should enjoy equal rights. We expect Israel to stick to its democratic principles.”

Naftali Bennett’s response to this on IDF radio this morning was right on: “I say to the Americans that the affairs of the State of Israel – we will manage.  We will have to deal with the implications…and what kind of country we want…This is an internal issue and I think that no one has the right to intervene…”

Of course, the unspoken implication of the State Department comment is that the Jewish State legislation would damage Israel’s democracy.


But look who is unabashedly supporting the “Israel is a Jewish State” legislation: Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest (and an Arab) from Nazareth who promotes IDF service for Christian Arabs in Israel.

He went to the UN recently to say that the only safe place for Christians in the Middle East is Israel.

Father Gabriel Nadaf
Credit: Facebook

This amazing man gets it, even if some Jews in Israel refuse to get it.  The JPost describes what Father Nadaf wrote on his Facebook page (emphasis added):

”He said that it is ironic that, although the State of Israel defines itself as a Jewish and democratic state, democratic principles are well-founded in law, whereas Jewish principles are not.”The priest also said that the claim by ‘a small minority, with great influence via the Supreme Court, the media, and leftist academia’ that Israel is ‘a state of all it’s citizens,’ was lovely at first sight, ‘but covers a severe injury to the Jewishness of the state.’”

“’Even the Basic Laws – which the Supreme Court has turned into a constitution, contrary to all internationally recognized practice – where it says that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, have been interpreted to give a clear superiority to the democratic dimension above the Jewish dimension,’ he said.

Nadaf highlighted what he said is the importance of defining Israel as a Jewish state in light of the refusal of the Palestinian leadership to so.

There is a reason why they won’t recognize [Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people]. They prefer it to be a state of all its citizens, without a national perspective, which would allow them to claim their own national rights in the land forever, including the concept of the ‘right of return.’ In light of this, it is important to clarify in law to the citizens of the state, who maybe have forgotten this, to our neighbors, and to the entire world, that it is not worthwhile for them to err. The Jews have returned home and established their national state. They are no longer temporary residents in the Land of Israel,” Nadaf wrote.

”He noted that all minority citizens living in the State of Israel “enjoy freedom and equality in all aspects, and that for Israel to define itself as Jewish would not pose any obstacle for members of minority groups to live in peace in the country.”

This, I believe, is worth sharing.  It carries more weight when a non-Jew in Israel says minorities enjoy freedom and equality in all aspects.


Switching gears just slightly…we now have another proposed piece of legislation that is sparking controversy.  Referred to as the Haneen Zoabi bill, it would be an amendment to Basic Law, and states:

“an MK who in a time of war or military action against an enemy state or terror organization offers public support for military struggle against the State of Israel, their term in the Knesset shall be terminated on the day the Knesset decides by a majority of its members and at the recommendation of the Knesset House Committee that the published comments constitute the aforementioned expressions of support.”

The involvement of the House Committee is essential for determining precisely what constitutes public support for an enemy.  Netanyahu is in favor of this legislation, but wants to see a supermajority of votes (I’m reading 70) required, rather than the simple majority of half plus one (which is 61).

The legislation has the support of a broad spectrum of MKs, and was proposed by David Rotem (Yisrael Beitenu), who chairs the Knesset Committee on Constitution, Law and Justice.

MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu). (Flash90)

Credit: Flash 90


My response to this is, Mazel Tov!  The failure of the Knesset to take action against MKs who are obviously not loyal to Israel has been distressing to many for a long time.  Hopefully this situation will now be rectified.

There will be an outcry with regard to this proposal, as well, from the Arab parties and the left.  With this outcry will come a certain confusion about what the real issues are.  The claim will be that a democracy must permit free speech. But even free speech has limits.

It is instructive to read what Knesset legal advisor Ayal Yinon had to say on these issues less than a month ago.  When Haneen Zoabi was banned for six months from all Knesset activity except voting (I wrote about this yesterday), she went to the High Court, claiming that the Knesset has no legal right to sanction an MK for expressing a political opinion.

Explained Yinon: We are not dealing with the expression of unethical opinions, which would be protected by parliamentary immunity. It is rather that Zoabi’s statements violate MKs’ vow to be faithful to the State of Israel and its laws and work for the good of the country.

Let’s see where this goes now.  This proposed legislation definitely feels like progress for Israel.  I have long felt that this woman should be tossed out of the Knesset.  Yesterday I wrote that she said the kidnappers of the boys were not terrorists.  But, during our war with Hamas this summer, she also encouraged Hamas rocket attacks and wrote on a Hamas website that they should put Israel under siege.  From where I sit that smells like treason.


The bitter irony is that in spite of legal/ethical debates such as those described above, and the democratic protections that are in place, Israel is charged with persecution of its minorities, racism, and “apartheid.” In my view, we’ve put up with too much that is unacceptable, for too long.


The EU Parliament had been scheduled to vote on recognizing a Palestinian state today, but that vote has been tabled for two weeks. Not a whole lot of time.  Reasons given for the postponement include dissension within the EU on the language of the resolution; opposition to the resolution by some member states, most notably Germany; and intense lobbying for postponement that has been done by Israel. It is hoped that the two weeks will provide time for convincing some additional states to oppose the resolution.


According to the Ma’an News Agency, PA Foreign Minister Riyad ha-Maliki said Monday that there would be a delay in bringing the issue of Palestinian statement before the Security Council – both because the Council was preoccupied with Iranian issues and because the support of member states had not been secured.

Yesterday, according to the Wafa News Agency, ha-Maliki denies this and says they are proceeding.

When they figure out what they’re doing, they can let us know.


Sweden passed a resolution recognizing a Palestinian state last month, prompting Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman to angrily recall the Israeli ambassador to Sweden.  After Sweden indicated its desire to sustain a relationship with Israel – and it became clear that the Swedish government took the position it did for internal political reasons – the decision was made that we will allow our ambassador to return at the end of this week.

The parliaments of Britain, Ireland and Spain have passed non-binding resolutions urging their respective governments to recognize a Palestinian state. The parliaments of France, Denmark, and Slovenia will be voting similarly before long.  But so far no other nation has actually voted to recognize the state.

From a legal perspective, these votes are without impact.  Remember that the PA simply does not fulfill the qualifications for a state. But there are political ramifications.


Meanwhile, at a Fatah conference in Ramallah yesterday, Abbas stated, at the end of a speech he delivered, that:

“It is a moral, national and religious right to defend Al-Aqsa and the places holy to Islam and Christianity. Our people oppose the thieving attackers who are supported by the government of Israel…We are all ready to sacrifice ourselves for Al-Aqsa and for Jerusalem.”

I want you to note how the PA now enfolds “Christianity into its references to holy places, as if it is the protector of Christians.  A mockery.


I supported the decision of the Netanyahu government not to take Hamas out entirely this summer.  I was convinced that there are too many other directions in which to focus, too many other places in which we might need to devote our troops and equipment in battle, to allow us to become too mired in Gaza in a long-term draining battle.  Not that I would not have wished it could have been possible.  It seemed to me a question of military pragmatics, triage if you will; although I do confess that I had wished we might have done more damage than we did before quitting.

But now come reports that are troubling. There is no question that Hamas is re-arming – for example, testing rockets by launching them into the Mediterranean.

There are claims that Hamas is also rebuilding tunnels into Israel.  This would be troubling in the extreme.  You want to say, surely the military is on top of this.  Fervently would I hope so, but nothing is certain. It might be that the military – still very concerned about what might explode to our north – is studiously ignoring Hamas at the moment, figuratively speaking.

I write this now to call my readers’ attention to this issue (“interesting times,” huh?).  But also because of two articles I want to share:

Mosab Yousef, the son of Hamas leader Sheik Hassan Yousef, worked for the Shin Bet for 10 years.  Now he has come forward with a plea to take out Hamas before it gains strength via rebuilding.

“I say these things because you cannot escape from reality. You cannot escape from [Hamas militarization] with temporary solutions. You have to address the Hamas problem by pulling it up from the roots, once and for all.

Yousef called the ceasefire agreement “fundamentally flawed”: “This is, first and foremost, an ideological movement. Thus, there is no concept of negotiations or compromise with it.”

This is absolutely true.  If Hamas refrains from attacking us, it is because it suits them to refrain, or because of Israeli deterrence, not because of a commitment it has made.

What caught my attention here was that Yousef also said that taking on Hamas again now would lead to reduced tensions in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. Food for thought, for there is no question but that Hamas is fomenting terrorism.  Not that I really believe for a moment that Israel will act in this direction now, even if Yousef is analyzing correctly.


Then, please see this article by Khaled Abu Toameh, “Hamas: Rebuild Gaza or We Attack.”

“The only option Hamas faces, therefore, is to attack Israel again as a way of ridding itself of the severe crisis in the Gaza Strip and the growing frustration among the Palestinians living there. Hamas’s biggest fear is that this frustration will be translated into disillusionment with its regime. That is why Hamas is now seeking to direct the anger on the Palestinian street toward Israel.” (Emphasis added)

However you look at it, it seems to me, there is extreme turmoil in Gaza, and insufficient deterrence for us to depend upon.


Last Friday, Hamas called for one more “day of rage,” although I believe it fell a bit flat (thank Heaven).

At the same time, the grieving families of the four rabbis killed in Har Nof put out this notice:

”The widows and orphans of the four men who were slain in the Jerusalem synagogue massacre this week issued a letter calling for national solidarity and unity:” With broken hearts, drenched in tears shed over the spilt blood of holy men – the heads of our families.

”We call on our brethren wherever they are – let us come together so that we may merit mercy from Heaven, and let’s accept upon ourselves to increase love and comradery, between each individual and each community.

”We ask that every person accept upon himself on this Sabbath Eve …to set aside the day of Shabbat as a day of unconditional love, a day during which we will refrain from words of disagreement and division, from words of gossip and slander.

”May this serve to elevate the souls of our husbands and fathers who were slaughtered while sanctifying God’s name.”

Compare and contrast, please! Time and again I am left in awe of the noble spirits of those who have lost loved ones to terrorism.  We are, without question, a special people.

And THIS, my friends, is the good news for today.


Debunking the House Intelligence Report on Benghazi

By: Clare Lopez
Accuracy in Media

Editor’s Note: By Roger Aronoff

The report released last Friday on the September 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has once again brought to the surface this story that will not go away. Not, certainly, until those responsible are held accountable, and a truthful and accurate version of events and motivations in the months and days leading up to this tragic chapter in American history has been established.

The media embraced the report as bipartisan vindication of what the Obama administration has argued: Namely that yes, mistakes were made, we did everything we could to protect our people, and have put into place remedies, and changes in policies, so that nothing like this happens again. But the evidence and the testimony say otherwise.

Accuracy in Media took the lead in creating the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi (CCB) in 2013 primarily to hold the Obama administration accountable—but also Congress and the media—and to do our own independent investigation. Clare Lopez, formerly a CIA officer for 20 years, and a member of the CCB, has written this rebuttal to the just-released House Intelligence report. There is even more in the Benghazi story that deserves scrutiny and explanation, such as the dereliction of duty in the failure to deploy available military assets during the attacks and the failure of the State Department to provide additional security, or close the compound altogether. The new report states that its focus is on the U.S. Intelligence Community and that it “does not assess State Department or Defense Department activities other than where those activities impact, or were impacted by, the work of the intelligence community.” We have addressed those issues in the past, and will again in the future, but for now, this article should make clear that for whatever reason, the authors of the report have chosen to ignore volumes of evidence that contradict and disprove their main findings. While this article is exclusive to Accuracy in Media, please feel free to post and distribute this article by Clare Lopez.]


Debunking the House Intelligence Report on Benghazi

By Clare Lopez

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Ranking Member C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-MD) issued a much-anticipated “Investigative Report on the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012” late on Friday November 21, 2014 that has administration supporters crowing—and eyewitness, on-the-ground operators pushing back forcefully. A close comparison of the report and other previously released information about the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi shows that the operators have good reason to cry “foul.” While clever wording just might give Messrs. Rogers and Ruppersberger plausible deniability on a witness stand, the overall intent of the report is clear: exonerate the Intelligence Community (IC), and, by extension, the Obama administration, of responsibility for intelligence failures prior, during, and after the terrorist attack that took the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

In simple terms, this report is a whitewash of the CIA, which, along with the State Department, was responsible for arming and assisting the very jihadist militia groups that rose to power in the first place during the 2011 rebellion against Muammar Qaddafi, and who later murdered our people in Benghazi. The biggest intelligence failure of all that is never mentioned is the failure to understand the essential hostility of the jihadist ideology of the groups with which our government was dealing.

One of the most riveting revelations from members of the CIA security team who were at the Annex the night of 11-12 September, 2012 concerns the repeated refusal of CIA Chief of Base ‘Bob’ to allow them to go to the rescue of the besieged Americans at the Special Mission Compound (SMC). While the Rogers report is adamant that “…the Committee found no evidence that there was either a stand down order or a denial of available air support,” that statement is directly contradicted by accounts of events from Mark “Oz” Geist, Kris “Tanto” Paranto, and John “Tig” Tiegen. These three members of the Annex security team are co-authors of “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi,” and have spoken out publicly in multiple media appearances. The Rogers Committee interviewed all three of them, as well as additional members of the Annex staff, so there’s no question about its familiarity with the actual sequence of events that fateful night.

According to Oz, Tanto, and Tig, COB “Bob” specifically used the words “Stand down” and also “Hold up” and “You need to wait” to keep security team members from going to the aid of fellow Americans under terrorist assault at the SMC. Despite repeated and increasingly panicked calls from the SMC, “Bob” refused to allow the Annex security team to depart that compound for nearly half an hour after the first alarm came in—a delay team members firmly believe resulted in the needless deaths of Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith. While “Bob’s” motivations may be debated—concern for the Annex’s own security, and the supposed responsibility of the jihadist 17 February Martyrs Brigade to defend the SMC—the Rogers Committee had a solemn responsibility to report truthfully about events as they happened. In this instance, the HPSCI report failed that responsibility.

Oversight and review of actions by the Intelligence Community constitute the primary mission of the HPSCI. The Rogers report devotes considerable attention and effort to conveying the impression that there was insufficient, or insufficiently specific, warning of an impending attack against the U.S. Mission in Benghazi. Unfortunately again, on multiple counts, this impression is an inaccurate one. The Rogers report Executive Summary on page 2 states that the “Committee finds that there was no intelligence failure prior to the attacks….IC provided intelligence about previous attacks and the increased threat environment in Benghazi, but the IC did not have specific, tactical warning of the September 11 attacks.” The careful wording of this claim may be technically accurate, but it is a far cry from being fully truthful about what the IC knew or should have known in the days and hours leading up to the attacks. Once again, a misleading conclusion is conveyed that whitewashes the IC performance, which was, in fact, lacking on a number of counts.

Congressional and media reporting alike confirm that prior intelligence reporting did detail earlier al-Qa’eda-linked terrorist attacks against other Western targets in and around Benghazi, as well as against the U.S. Mission itself. The implication left with the reader is that the State Department, whose activities the Rogers report does not assess (“other than where those activities impact, or were impacted by, the work of the intelligence community”), was responsible not only for the failure to properly secure its SMC facility, but for the fact that Amb. Stevens was in Benghazi at all on such a momentous date for Islamic terrorists—especially given the local security situation, which was known to both him and the State Department.

At least two glaring intelligence failures do stand out, though. The first is the IC failure to warn either the Annex or Special Mission Compound personnel that between September 9th and 11th 2012, Muslim anger in Egypt and the broader Muslim world began to boil over on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter over the “Innocence of Muslims” YouTube video about the ife of Muhammad. The book 13 Hours notes that it was left to Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Greg Hicks at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli to sound the alarm on September 11, 2012 with a text message to Ambassador Stevens to let him know that the U.S. Embassy in Cairo was under assault by violent demonstrators who had breached the perimeter wall and torn down the American flag. A communications officer at the SMC later telephoned the CIA Annex to convey the same information to them. The question left dangling is why it was the State Department that had to pass breaking real-time threat information to the CIA in Benghazi, when the gathering Islamic anger had been trending openly on social media sites for two whole days. In the end, of course, there were absolutely zero demonstrations or protests in Benghazi or Libya as a whole about that video, but Annex security team members have confirmed they knew nothing in advance about either the video or the online storm it generated. Given that it was their core responsibility to provide security protection to the Annex and its CIA operatives, the IC failure to ensure that they knew this information in a timely fashion left a gap in their overall situational awareness, even though their professional readiness posture to react on a 24/7 basis may not have suffered in any significant way.

The second intelligence failure involves the video that actually did matter in Benghazi: the videotaped message from al-Qa’eda (AQ) chief Ayman al-Zawahiri that went up on jihadist websites on September 10, 2012 and, in retrospect, seems obviously to have been the green light signal for the attack. Al-Zawahiri’s message called specifically on Libyans to rise up and attack Americans as revenge for the CIA drone killing of his Libyan deputy, Abu Yahya al-Libi, a few months earlier. Annex security members have confirmed they knew nothing about what should have been a red alert to the entire U.S. Mission in Benghazi. It should be noted here that even though Annex security team members were not privy to all incoming IC intel reporting, but instead were briefed by the Team Lead (a CIA case officer), they were responsible for protecting Annex and its CIA personnel. An earlier intelligence report, for example, is described on page 51 of the 13 Hours account as being extremely specific about a warning that “a Western facility or U.S. Embassy/Consulate/Government target will be attacked in the next week.” That one was considered so important that Tyrone “Rone” Woods taped a copy of it up on a white board in the security team room at the Annex, and each member of the team over the following days signed his initials to show that he’d read it. According to the book, once everyone had signed, Tanto took the report down and shredded it…on September 11, 2012.

This report got everyone’s attention (at the Annex at least), but when the commander of AQ issued an attack order that was at least equally as specific to the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, inexplicably, the IC was oblivious. This must be counted as an egregious intelligence failure and should have been identified as such in the Rogers report.

Next, on the question of the identities of the terrorist attackers, the Rogers report once again conveys a very inaccurate impression. The report’s Executive Summary says “…Committee finds that a mixed group of individuals, including those affiliated with Al-Qa’ida, participated in the attacks….although the Committee finds that the intelligence was and remains conflicting about the identities, affiliations, and motivations of the attackers.”

In light of all the threat information about al-Qa’eda, the AQ-linked Ansar al-Shariah, and jihadist 17 February Martyrs Brigade SMC guards that was abundantly available to the entire Benghazi mission, both at the Annex and the SMC, the identity of the Benghazi assault teams hardly could have been in doubt. But even if it’s conceded that the attackers included individuals from a number of different local militias, everyone in Benghazi knew, or should have known, that they were all jihadis, aka AQ affiliates. And while of late it has become unfashionable, not to mention career-threatening, within the U.S. government to mention the jihadist ideology of America’s terrorist enemies, those on the ground in harm’s way don’t have the luxury of such denial. Those in Benghazi on the night of 11-12 September 2012 knew immediately who was attacking them and reported that information up their respective chains-of-command.

There was plenty of other information available—both immediately and within days of the attack. For one thing, the closed circuit TV (CCTV) cameras mounted on the exterior of Annex and SMC buildings not only recorded for the permanent record, but live-streamed events on the ground as they were happening. That live-stream video would have been seen by dozens of U.S. government officials across the IC that night. Everyone watching knew the attackers were Islamic terrorists, well-organized, well-prepared, and well-trained for that assault. For whatever reason, however, the Annex security team members were never allowed to view this CCTV footage.

An additional and critical piece of information is revealed on page 185 of 13 Hours in Benghazi, where Tanto recalls that a member of the 17th February Martyrs Brigade handed him a Blackberry cell phone that had been recovered “outside the front of the villa” (meaning the SMC). Tanto gave the cell phone to COB “Bob” after he and other team members returned to the Annex. This phone more than likely belonged to one of the attackers. The forensic exploitation of its contents would have been completed with speed and urgency, very likely providing the Intelligence Community with a great deal of information about the entire Benghazi-based network of AQ, Ansar al-Shariah, and AQIM terrorists involved in the mission attack within days, if not hours.

Finally, the Associated Press (AP) published an excellent piece of investigative journalism on October 27th, 2012. AP reporters had gone to Benghazi and interviewed the SMC’s neighbors. Their report clearly states that the local eyewitnesses identified the attackers as Ansar al-Shariah by the logos on their trucks as they set up roadblocks around the compound prior to the attack. Obviously, if wire service reporters could get this information, Benghazi CIA officers should have acquired and reported it, too. If they did not, then that too is an intelligence failure.

The next critical element of the Rogers report that needs scrutiny involves the weapons shipments that were sent from Benghazi to Turkey for overland delivery to the Syrian al-Qa’eda-and-Muslim-Brotherhood-linked rebels fighting there against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The relevant passage from the Rogers Executive Summary reads: “…the Committee also found no evidence that the CIA conducted unauthorized activities in Benghazi and no evidence that the IC shipped arms to Syria.” Once again, wording is everything.

According to an August 2012 report from CNN, President Obama signed an Intelligence Finding to authorize clandestine support for Syrian rebels by the CIA and other agencies sometime in early 2012. The same CNN report says that an earlier Finding was signed in 2011 to authorize CIA support to the Libyan rebels. Such Findings carry a great deal of legal weight and likely trump the U.S. Criminal Code ban on providing material support to terrorism. So, even if the IC had been providing arms, funding, intelligence, and other support to AQ in Libya in 2011 and later, in Syria in 2012, it wasn’t, strictly speaking, “unauthorized.”

Furthermore, the Rogers report itself reproduces a question-and-answer session before the HPSCI that featured testimony from Acting CIA Director Mike Morell. On page 87 of the report, Morell plainly admits that arms were leaving Benghazi and going to Syria. Sections of the exchange are redacted, but the clear implication is that the Turks were involved as middlemen in the movement of weapons from Libya destined for the Syrian rebels. Morell’s testimony tried to give HPSCI member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) the impression that the only CIA role in this gun-running was monitoring that movement, not participating in it. At this point in the session, however, HPSCI Chairman Rogers intervened to shut the conversation down from going any further.

Fox News reporter Catherine Herridge shed further light on the shipment of weapons destined for the Syrian rebels out of Libya by way of Turkey with an important 25 October 2012 story in which she revealed that the Libyan-flagged ship, the “Al-Entisar,” reportedly loaded with weapons from Libya, had been docked in the Turkish port of Iskanderun on September 6th, 2012. Readers will recall that Ambassador Stevens’ last meeting, a mere five days later, on September 11th, was with the Turkish Consul General in Benghazi. Semantics again: the ships didn’t dock in Syria, they docked in Turkey. So, the Rogers report technically can say that the arms shipments didn’t go to Syria—even though Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier had seemed shocked during her own Congressional testimony at the suggestion that Libyan weapons shipments might have been going, precisely, to Turkey. Technically once again, it might be said that she knew perfectly well the weapons were destined ultimately for delivery in Syria, not Turkey. In any case, someone needs to reconcile these accounts.

Finally, lending some measure of credence to CIA denials of involvement in the Libya-Turkey-Syria gun-running operation is the State Department’s own in-house magazine, which in its December 2011 issue, describes how Stevens and the Libyan Muslim-Brotherhood-led Transitional National Council worked together and “launched the U.S. government’s cooperative program with the council to collect dangerous weapons such as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.” So, it seems possible that the Libya-Syria gun-running operation was directed by the State Department after all. Outstanding questions for the Select Committee on Benghazi might include how many of these so-called MANPADS were collected, by whom, stored where, and how they were shipped out of Benghazi.

To sum up, then, the November 21, 2014 Rogers report on the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi leaves far too many misperceptions to go unchallenged. From IC warnings about the impending attack, to the unambiguous COB “Stand Down” order to the Annex security team, to the AQ terrorist identity of the attackers, and finally to the gun-running operation itself, there is still a great deal to be investigated here. The Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi—which issued our own Interim Report last April—calls on Rep. Trey Gowdy and the entire Select Committee on Benghazi to keep investigating this tragic fiasco until there is full accountability and as much transparency as possible for the American people—and especially, for the families of those who gave their lives in Benghazi.


Weasel Of The Week Nominees – 11/25/14

The Watcher’s Council


Hello and welcome to the Watcher’s Council’s ‘Weasel Of The Week’ nominations, where we award the famed golden plastic Weasel to a public figure who particularly deserves to be slimed and mocked for his or her dastardly deeds during the week. Every Tuesday morning, tune in for the Weasel of the Week nominations and check back Thursday to see which Weasel gets the votes and walks off with the statuette of shame!

Here are this weeks’ nominees…


Democrat Congressman And Illegal Alien Grievance Monger Luis Gutierrez!

The Noisy Room: For his telling GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to stop whining and start legislating and for his smug “It’s a beautiful day to celebrate #ImmigrationAction in Las Vegas!”

Gutierrez, a true Marxist revolutionary and a committed racist is celebrating the defeat and coup of the Republic. For that, I brand him a treasonous weasel. Is that constructive enough?

Cleveland City Councilmen And Bathroom Monitors Matt Zone And Joe Ciperman!!

The Independent Sentinel: My weasel of the week is the Cleveland City Council especially councilmen Matt Zone and Joe Cimperman who suggested we have to get used to people of any gender using any bathroom.

Businesses and individuals who voice concerns or express discomfort will be subject to a $1000 fine. This is to please the less than 1% of the population who call themselves transgender.

“This is common sense legislation, and it’s long overdue,” Zone asserted, noting that the ordinance does not mandate businesses to provide separate restroom or locker room facilities or signs warning unsuspecting visitors. “We’re in the 21st century, and it would allow Clevelanders to feel comfortable in their own environment and to use facilities that they’re most comfortable with.”

El Presidente Y Jefe Barack Hussein Obama!!

Rhymes With Right: Barack Hussein Obama, who by executive decree has declared the Constitution, and with it the principle of separation of powers, is null and void and that therefore all powers granted to Congress shall instead reside in the hands of the President in the event he does not approve of their decision not to pass laws that he demands be passed.

The P5+1 And Particularly Secretary Of State John Kerry!!

JoshuaPundit: For allowing Iran to play them for even more time in ‘negotiations’ while Iran gets closer to having a nuclear weapon. The latest deadline (giggle) ended November 24th, with the Iranians still refusing even basic concessions like reducing the number of centrifuges, changing their heavy water reactor at Arak to a light water one incapable of increasing plutonium, ceasing all ballistic missile activity or even disclosing info on  their  program, or even a reliable verification program.

Kerry’s reaction? After a year of sheer horse manure that has accomplished nothing except to dismantle the sanctions regime and give badly needed billions to this fascist regime, Kerry and the P5+1 are begging Iran to continue the talks for another 7 months, until July 2015. They’ve caved on everything. The weakness this projects to the Iranians can only be imagined and it’s weaselness that threatens both our country and the peace of the world.

Well, there it is! Are these worthy weasels or what? Check back Thursday to see which Weasel walks off with the statuette of shame!

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum.

And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council and the results are posted on Friday morning.

It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere and you won’t want to miss it… or any of the other fantabulous Watcher’s Council content.

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The Real Ferguson Indictment

By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

Chaos in Ferguson headline AP photo

Last night marked a place in time for America; but I’ll get around to that in a bit.  The Grand Jury followed the law and decided there wasn’t sufficient (any) evidence to justify charging a Ferguson police officer with criminal charges because all the evidence established that he’d acted in self defense when he shot and killed a young man, a young man who had robbed and assaulted a business owner only minutes before, a large man sized youth who had attacked him and tried to take away his service pistol.

The news media, if they can still be called that after the way they’ve abused their privileged status and lost the trust of the American public…the news media has been building up for a race riot ever since the day of the shooting.

They painted the officer as a white hate mongering racist who shot a defenseless innocent boy simply because he was black.  The only reason the cop shot a black kid was because white cops have always shot black kids; and on top of that, white cops don’t like having a black president; it’s the story to run with, and boy did they run with it.

Race pimps from around the country joined in building the bonfire pyramid; a chance to have a monumental burning down of the ‘old’ while ushering in the ‘new’.   Social Justice would take the place of the rule of law and the undeserving would be rewarded for being undeserving as a means of righting that which had gone on from the beginning of history; isn’t that the definition of Social Justice?

Interestingly, while the scum of the earth was looting and burning down business after business in Ferguson, all in the name of justice…a message showed up on my Facebook page.

The instructions were to post a picture of the Lord’s House and then challenge anyone who hit the ‘like’ button to do the same.  If we offset the negative with something positive then it will show that we have our priorities in the right place.

Houston Temple at Night Spring 2008 015I was supposed to wait until the name of a specific temple was sent; but the idea of supporting a great idea wouldn’t wait, I posted a picture of the Houston Temple.  Later, after receiving the ‘challenge’ I posted a picture of that temple as well.

This morning over 35 individuals from my ‘friends’ list had stopped by to check out the challenge.  Before long Facebook could have quite a different feel to it; hundreds of folks posting pictures of the Lord’s House to offset the garbage being reported and over-reported from around the world.

As we go before our ‘Grand Jury’, what evidence will we supply to support an indictment?  There will always be plenty of evil, enough to go around and then some.  It will be up each of us to choose this day whom you will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.