Editor of the Reformer:
The Caraballo federal murder trial has exposed a dirty little law enforcement secret: That the State Police Drug Task Force not only pays cash to informants who buy drugs from suspected dealers, but also that the informants themselves use that cash to buy drugs for their own use.
This became public when on cross examination by Caraballo’s defense counsel, one of several paid informants -- who admitted that he was "in a very bad way" and owed money -- testified that he was paid as much as $200 by the State Police each time he bought drugs from Mr. Caraballo, but then used those funds to buy marijuana for his own use. Also, several witnesses for the government admitted that they had previously lied to police, prosecutors and even under oath to the Grand Jury.
This perverse arrangement raises some troubling questions. Specifically, where did the money come from to pay the informants for their "work"? Were taxpayers funds used? What was the total amount paid to informants by the Vermont Drug Task Force in the Caraballo case? Did the State Police handlers for those informants know that those fees they were paying informants were, for at least one informant, being used to purchase marijuana for his own use? If not, why not? (the informant in question was using crack cocaine at the time he was cultivated by the Drug Task Force to become an informant).
This vile system pollutes the waters of justice in the name of drug enforcement and cries out for legislative and/or judicial oversight. The abuse of money in drug task force investigations and prosecutions, as exposed in the Caraballo trial, calls into question how far (and how low) a civilized society based upon the Rule of Law will compromise its morality in fighting the so-called "War on Drugs." When our government encourages this sort of outrageous behavior -- regardless of the ultimate goal -- we are all poorer for it. This isn’t what Vermont should be about.
Bradley D. Myerson,
Manchester Center, Sept. 26
On Fish, shutdown ...
Editor of the Reformer:
Hey, don’t get me wrong. I like Fish, Brattleboro’s own tribune for the dopey. In fact, I’m still laughing over something he wrote, couple of months back, posing the question: "If a man speaks in the forest and there’s no woman to tell him he’s wrong, is he still wrong?" But when he rails, as he does today (Oct. 2) about the government shutdown and writes, "Fed up I am! Sick and tired of politics over people. Seriously, for the first time in my adult life, I’m thinking I may never vote again. Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a dysfunctional pack of bungholes in my entire life. All they care about is political wrangling and winning...." Blah, blah.
Listen, I’m a federal employee who’s on furlough right now, but this kind rhetorical carrying on, though amusing, is dangerous because it reinforces ignorance. It’s not "all of them, the politicians, the bungholes in Washington," OK? It’s a (God-help-us) very sizable and determined, if not fanatical group of Republicans -- funded by the very, very wealthy -- who are trying to hold the entire country hostage because they can’t stomach a law that’s already been passed by both houses of Congress and even specifically upheld by the Supreme Court. Closer to home, it’s not Bernie Sanders, Pat Leahy or Peter Welch. If someone at the NSA’s monitoring this letter, well, listen up: I think these same Republicans are not merely "bungholes;" they look to me like traitors -- against our federal system of government. Obama, in his recent appearances, sounds like nothing less than a weary, embattled parent who’s telling a naughty, out-of-control child (or pack of children) they must stop acting out and be reasonable, i.e. they cannot get their way by simply demanding it.
But they’re not children, these Republicans. They’re male and female adults; powerful, dangerous and willing to be very, very destructive to our Constitution and civil society. Not vote or hang tough in the face of such a dire threat? Not on your life.
Brattleboro, Oct. 2