By Norman Solomon © 2000

         Does America have a military-industrial-media complex?

         Whether you consider the question in terms of psychology or economics, some grim answers are available from the National Association of Broadcasters, a powerful industry group that just held its radio convention in San Francisco.

         When a recent Federal Trade Commission report faulted media companies for marketing violence to children, various politicians expressed outrage. But we've heard little about the NAB -- a trade association with a fitting acronym. The NAB has a notable record of nabbing the public airwaves for private gain.

         Nearly 40 years ago, a farewell speech by President Dwight Eisenhower warned about the "conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry." He said: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military- industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." That potential has been realized, with major help from media.

         Rather than scrutinize the merchants of militarism, large news organizations have been inclined to embrace them. (In some cases, as with General Electric and NBC, the arms contractor and the network owner are one and the same.) The Pentagon's key vendors can rest assured that big TV and radio outlets will function much more as allies than adversaries.

         On television, the recruitment ads for the armed forces symbolize the cozy -- and lucrative -- ties between the producers of fantasy violence and the planners of massive carnage. Military leaders have good reasons to appreciate the nation's entertainment media for encouraging public acceptance of extreme violence.

         In practice, big money rules the airwaves, and that's the way the NAB likes it. The industry is swinging its mighty lobbying arm to knock down a proposal -- approved by the Federal Communications Commission -- to license low-power radio stations. The specter of community-based "microbroadcasting" worries the NAB, which sees wealth as a vital precondition for control of broadcast frequencies.

         But the NAB has championed some new laws, like the landmark Telecommunications Act of 1996 that made it possible for a single corporation to own several radio stations in the same city -- and hundreds of stations across the country. Now, more than ever, cookie-cutter stations from coast to coast are beaming identical syndicated garbage to millions of listeners.

         With autumn getting underway, the NAB convention's keynote speaker was a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "Colin Powell is a true national hero," said NAB's president.

         Powell won great media acclaim for overseeing the Gulf War slaughter of Iraqi people -- 200,000 of them in a six-week period, according to a Pentagon estimate. At the time, America's broadcasters and their cable television colleagues presented the bloodshed as a glorious exercise of military prowess -- rendered on TV screens as dramatic video games.

         Political bluster tells us that children should not be desensitized by media images of simulated violence -- but it's A-OK to depict the real thing as a big feather in the nation's patriotic cap. The military-industrial-media complex takes its toll with deeply ingrained patterns of newspeak and doublethink. Orwell recognized such patterns long ago.

         American media's high comfort level with sanctioned violence -- imaginary or real -- has a numbing effect on people of all ages. Meanwhile, the dominant weave of propaganda and militarism is, for some, a brocade embossed with gold.

         Since September 1998, Powell has been on the management board of America Online. Nine months ago, the retired general voted with other members of the board to approve AOL's purchase of Time Warner.

         Gen. Powell holds AOL stock options worth $13.3 million. His son Michael Powell -- one of the five FCC commissioners -- has refused to recuse himself from the agency's pending vote on whether to approve the merger of AOL and Time Warner.

         Dissent was not on the agenda at the NAB convention. But I was glad to be among more than a thousand people who protested nearby, in the streets of San Francisco, to confront the dire centralization of media ownership.

         Articles probing the current clout of America's broadcast industry are posted at -- a website that's unlikely to be mentioned on the national airwaves. One of the most insidious prerogatives of radio and TV giants is that they largely filter out news about challenges to their own power.


Norman Solomon is a syndicated columnist. His latest book is "The Habits of
Highly Deceptive Media."

"There's a chip in my head"

For several years in the late 1990s, Boulder Weekly editors and writers were treated to routine visits by a former Disneyland employee who insisted the company had rendered him unconscious to implant a chip in his head. He begged Boulder Weekly to pay for surgery to remove the chip, in return for the opportunity to photograph the procedure. We passed, but couldn't help but wonder what types of conspiracy theories would emerge should society ever accept the overt use of human implant technology. No matter how creepy some Americans find the prospect of implant technology, no one can stop its creation. "Technology is continually trumping the constitutional guarantees that we have," says Gray. He'd like to see protections against the misuse of such chips as they become commercially available: "Citizens could ask for a law that made it a crime to put these into a person without their permission, and to forbid, under any conditions, for the government to put these into prisoners, parolees, illegal aliens, soldiers, citizens." He's even proposed "only half joking" a "Cyborg Bill of Rights" to help ensure that "new technologies are chosen democratically and we do not have to accept every new technology that invades our freedoms."

Microchip implants for humans may eliminate autonomy any day. DIGITAL ANGEL
by Katherine Mieszkowski and staff reporters ()
Boulder Weekly, September 21-27, 2000

Worry no more, doting parents! Whether it's your little pumpkin's first day walking home from school by herself or the millionth time you've lost her at the mall, the Babysitterª will track your sweetpea's location using a jellybean-sized microchip implant, discreetly tucked under the skin of her collarbone. You'll be able to chart her every move. What better way to give her independence, and put your mind at ease?

Also available: The Constant Companionª lets you keep a watchful eye on grandma and grandpa, even when you can't be by their side; The Invisible Bodyguardª offers freedom from fear so you can enjoy the fauna and foliage when eco-tourism takes you to kidnapping-hot spots around the globe. Coming soon: The INS Border Patrollerª; the Maximum Security Guardª; the Personal Private Eyeª; the Micro-Managerª.

Alas, this is not as far-fetched or as futuristic as it sounds. The whoa-dude notion of surveillance chips being installed in human beings is poised to cross over from the realm of science fiction into everyday reality, and soon. One technology with the deliciously sci-fi name of the "Digital Angel," a prototype of which will be unveiled next month, could be implanted under the skin and used to monitor not only the chip- wearer's location, but vital signs like heart rate and body temperature. Other devices, worn externally like bracelets or pagers, are already in use and invite us to embrace electronic monitoring in specific environments like a theme park, college campus or construction site for our fun, health or safety.

The technology was born in Boulder, where Destron Corporation invented the microchip implant for pet and livestock identification. Unlike the Digital Angel, which evolved from animal implant technology, the Destron chips are designed transmit only a few feet to a scanner.

Spying on salmon

Today, the chips and a variety of imitations, are in millions of American dogs and cats. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service implants them in salmon to track their migration habits and survival trends in the Snake and Columbia Rivers. Ducts that bypass hydro-electric dams have been outfitted with scanners that collect data as the fish swim by.

Although Destron never intended for chips to be implanted in humans, the company's technology led to it.

"On one hand, society has a tremendous need for a practical identification system for humans," says Bob Stewart, of Boulder, who was the head of engineering for Destron before the company moved to Minneapolis in 1992. "More than a half million Americans have their identities stolen every year. On the other hand, implanting chips into humans brings up serious issues of privacy and Big Brother. It conjures images of Nazis branding Jews for easy identification."

What's also disturbing is just how quickly these devices, which only recently would have been laughed off as a cyborg fantasy, are becoming accepted. Amazingly, it was but two years ago that a British cybernetics professor pulled what then seemed like a futuristic stunt: temporarily installing electronics in his arm to control his computer remotely. Now having a personal chip is becoming, well, not quite the norm but a ready
possibility. Kevin Warwick, the cybernetics prof, says, "As the topic becomes more accessible in the media, people get used to the idea; it's not such a frightening thing...If it's not there this year, it's only a year or two downstream." A Japanese firm is already testing chips to track lost relatives. And the New York Times, in a nod to what its editors imagine the future might hold now that the human genome project is complete, asked several designers to suggest how we might carry around a chip encoded with
our unique genetic sequence "for perfect identification in matters medical, official, criminal or otherwise." Some of the possibilities portrayed in the July 9 Sunday magazine: a "decoder" ring, an implant in the human iris to be read with a retinal scanner, even an oval-shaped "genegg" for the belly button.

Stewart agrees that implant technology has an amazing future of sinister and productive applications. He disagrees, however, that it's only a few years out.

"It's a bit of a stretch to say in just a few years we'll be able to track all sorts of people with Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology and read all sorts of information about them," Stewart says. "The developers of Digital Angel would like to convince investors of that. But in reality, we're talking about a significant amount of functionality in one very small space. I suspect it's going to be 10 to 15 years before we see the
successful, wide-scale use of this technology."

The ability to simply scan and identify pets, for example, was a long row to hoe. Destron began developing the technology in Boulder back in 1970s. Only in the mid 1990s did the technology advance to the point where veterinarians, pet owners and animal shelters trusted it enough to start buying chips and scanners. Today, however, the system works well. Lost pets are scanned. If a small glass rice-sized capsule containing a chip has been installed in the pet, it transmits a number. A coinciding number on a central registry reveals the pet owners address and phone number.
But Digital Angel promoters counter critics, such as Stewart, by reminding them that technology advances exponentially. And with commercial interests hard at work to spread the gospel of human tracking and monitoring voluntarily, and for our own good, of course and others normalizing chip implantation, it might not be too soon to start preparing for a whole new silicon craze. Excuse me, but is that a chip in your ass?

The power problem

GPS technology already exists to track us wherever we might care to go the problem is keeping the sensor up and running, giving off signals all the time from inside of our bodies. Thus far, the biggest technological challenge is energy; a tracking chip needs a power source. Think how annoying it would be to have to plug your arm into the wall to recharge yourself like a pesky cellphone; besides, it would make it near-impossible
to thwart kidnappers or retrieve lost kiddies if rescuers didn't find the missing subject before the charge died. There's also the vexing dilemma of getting the chip and its power source small enough for comfort and aesthetics. Who wants an unsightly chip bulge?

Chris Hables Gray, an associate professor of computer science and the cultural study of science and technology at the University of Great Falls in Montana, says that researchers have been working to find just such a small, self-generating power source by tapping everything from body heat to the electrical pulses in the muscles. There's even been talk of putting teensy-weensy nanotechnology machines to work as miniature waterwheels in the bloodstream so the heart itself could be the power source. The heart running your chip: It's practically poetic.

Dr. Daniel Man, a famous plastic surgeon in Boca Raton, Fla., holds the patent for an implantable microchip, encased in glass, with a battery he says can be recharged by radio signal.

And one company claims that it has the ultimate solution to the power-source conundrum. It has a patent on "the solution," although executives won't yet reveal the technical details of how it actually works. Applied Digital Solutions didn't invent it, but purchased the patent for a "personal tracking and recovery system," which the company has dubbed Digital Angel. According to CEO Richard Sullivan, Digital Angel combines GPS wireless communications with biosensors, powered by body heat in the form of a dime-sized chip, which can be embedded in a watch, bracelet or medallion, even under your flesh should the FDA approve such an invasive thing.
"It's like a live radio signal all the time," he says. Sullivan sees a $100 billion potential market for the technology, which is still under development with help from researchers at Princeton University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The company will hold a gala in New York in October to show off the prototype, and try to drum up investment to finance actual products.

"They're going to use this event to stir up a lot of excitement, and will probably try to make it sound as if this is all just right around the corner," says Stewart. "It's on the horizon, but I'm skeptical that this is going to work the way they say it will anytime in the next few years."

Miracle cures

Considering the potential applications, should the thing actually work as the company claims it does? Just use your imagination, folks. Sullivan envisions kiddies having their own Digital Angels watching over them in case of a snatching. Or caretakers installing them in patients with Alzheimer's disease to prevent the old folks from wandering off. And just wait until the military gets a load of this one in every soldier to track not only their whereabouts, but their very mortality, in real time. No future questions about prisoners of war are they dead or alive and where are they? some 30 years after a conflict on foreign turf.

The device could save the lives of employees in extremely hazardous workplaces, such as nuclear power plants.

Come to think of it, a medallion worn around the neck that's powered by your very body heat doesn't seem any more invasive than some of the things that companies already do to their employees, so why not a chip in every last cube? Better still, dispense with those pesky keycards to get in and out of the office, and just have the whole thing implanted in your left butt cheek. If you're not already wondering how you and your loved ones made it this far without a single chip implant, just consider all the medical applications.

Picture a system that would constantly monitor a heart disease sufferer's pulse rate or a diabetes patient's sugar levels and notify medical help when things were looking dangerous. We accept pacemakers as a necessary and important technology to extend and enhance the quality of lives. How is this any different?

Sullivan brushes off concerns about privacy by promising that the chip-wearer will be able to control when he or she is, uh, switched on, although he won't yet say how exactly that will work. The Digital Angel website puts it bluntly: "The unit can be turned off by the wearer, thereby making the monitoring voluntary. It will not intrude on personal privacy
except in applications applied to the tracking of criminals."

Inevitable abuse

Maybe so, but the potential for abuse is so ludicrously high that it's almost impossible to overstate. You can just see the Michael Douglas-Sharon Stone Hollywood version, where the jealous husband gives an opulent anniversary watch with the chip inside it to his cheating wife, so he can obsessively monitor her movements, her body temperature, the very acceleration of the pounding of her heart rate...until she figures it out, and puts the chip to work against him.

To makers of tracking technologies, these Big Brother worst-case scenarios sound like the same griping that has met all sorts of other advancements we now blithely accept, like Social Security numbers, credit cards that catalog our every purchase and even e-mail.

"We believe that the benefits of the technology to a parent looking for a child at a theme park or a student feeling safe walking across campus far outweigh some of those concerns," says Tom Turner, senior vice president of marketing and business development for a company called WhereNet, which makes a technology that can be used to find people or objects in a specific, local environment. "It's individual choice."

So far, WhereNet has licensed its technology to companies that make bracelets worn on the wrist or pager-like devices carried in a pocket or purse. It's in use at Water World, a water theme park southeast of Boulder, and on the campuses of the University of South Florida in Tampa and the University of South Alabama in Mobile. Turner sees a future for such gadgets on cruise ships, in gated communities and at shopping malls.

Stewart says once the technology is reliable, chips could be programmed to screen potential customers. Imagine a world in which one must be embedded with a microchip in order to enter major shopping malls. Imagine if the courts could program the chips in repeat-offender shoplifters to set off a buzzer if they enter stores that want to screen them out.

How about chips that warn potential employers of applicants with criminal records? All of this may sound extreme today, but the potential economic ramifications could make such exercises politically popular. Americans have shown time and time again a willingness to exchange privacy and a variety of civil liberties for safety and security. A recent survey determined that the average American, for example, is subject to the scrutiny of public and private surveillance cameras installed in businesses, on highways and in a variety of public venues three times a day. Yet there's little public outcry from the public. TV executives have even managed to popularize the practice
with low-budget shows in which the audience watches tape of people involved in crimes and automobile accidents.

Just keep us safe

Brendan Fitzgerald minces no words regarding the profit potential in products that enhance safety and security to consumers. Fitzgerald is president of Microgistics, which produces a device call WalkMate. It's to be used by college students to alert campus police if they're in danger. Remember the gang rape of a University of Colorado Student last year? What if cops could have found her while the crime was in progress? The potential, in cases like that, give some Americans warm and fuzzy feelings about Big Brother. Bring on Big Brother and let him kick the criminal element's
collective ass.

Fitzgerald thinks the benefits of human tracking technology are clearly greater than the risks. "If you were working in a hazardous industrial environment, you would want to know that you could push a button and have someone help you if you need help. 'I fell into the vat of boiling acid!'" The safety-first logic is hard to argue with, even when it starts to veer from help when you need it to totally transparent surveillance when you're
at work.

Sullivan, of Applied Digital Systems, dismisses nagging doubts about what it means to literally wire ourselves up. "By our own nature, we tend to avoid things we know the least about and gravitate towards those that we do know. Some of the things that have made the most positive contributions to our lives are the things that there are the most concern about. Like any technology, it's really in the hands of the user," he says. Translation: It's Galileo vs. the Church all over again.

OK, Dr. Jekyll, you've convinced us. We're ready for our implants. Let us be the first to sign up for our very own chip body modifications. What list do we put our names on? In fact, we want our chips secured on the outside of our skin in order to show them off and impress everyone as to just how wired we've become. Surely it will be the next big thing filling the void left by the waning trendiness of tattoos, piercing, scarification. Visualize

However fashionable or discreet tracking devices might become, not everyone is titillated by the possibilities. "I think most people would be repulsed by the idea. This is just a sort of modern version of tattooing people, something that for obvious reasons the Nazis tattooed numbers on people no one proposes," says Bob Gellman, a Washington privacy consultant. "You can do anything you want voluntarily. You can tattoo a bar code on your forehead if you want."

But the real question, as he sees it, is who will be able to demand that a chip be implanted in another person a parent in a child; a prison warden in an inmate; the INS in an undocumented illegal alien found in the country; an employer in an employee as a condition of being hired? A judge, tired of seeing the same shoplifters, or drunk drivers, over and over again? Isn't this illegal?

"I'm sure there's a strong argument that implanting a chip in a person is unconstitutional. It would be cruel and unusual punishment," Gellman says. And for now the legal and social questions of who could turn such a chip on or off and who would have access to the information generated by such a chip is "a totally unexplored area," says Gellman, adding: "And probably one better off left unexplored."

Others see the chipification of humans as all but inevitable. Professor Chris Hables Gray, a self-proclaimed "cyborgologist" and author of the forthcoming book Cyborg Citizen, says it really doesn't matter whether or not the Digital Angel flies in October. "If this company doesn't do it, someone else will," he says. And watch out when they do.

"They will start implanting them in prisoners, parolees, child abusers, sex offenders and drunk drivers," he predicts. Gray says that it's been a military project for some 20 years to find a way to track every soldier on the battlefield. Remember when Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh complained of having been a part of a Gulf War experiment that implanted a chip in his butt? "McVeigh kept saying that he was being controlled by a chip in his ass," says Gray. The cyborgologist isn't saying he believes the bomber, of course, but cites circumstantial evidence that the military may have been experimenting with such tracking devices, and "if the military starts to say we will put these chips into every Marine's ass, they have no protection from that."

"There's a chip in my head"

For several years in the late 1990s, Boulder Weekly editors and writers were treated to routine visits by a former Disneyland employee who insisted the company had rendered him unconscious to implant a chip in his head. He begged Boulder Weekly to pay for surgery to remove the chip, in return for the opportunity to photograph the procedure. We passed, but couldn't help but wonder what types of conspiracy theories would emerge should society ever accept the overt use of human implant technology.

No matter how creepy some Americans find the prospect of implant technology, no one can stop its creation. "Technology is continually trumping the constitutional guarantees that we have," says Gray. He'd like to see protections against the misuse of such chips as they become commercially available: "Citizens could ask for a law that made it a crime to put these into a person without their permission, and to forbid, under any conditions, for the government to put these into prisoners, parolees, illegal aliens,
soldiers, citizens." He's even proposed "only half joking" a "Cyborg Bill of Rights" to help ensure that "new technologies are chosen democratically and we do not have to accept every new technology that invades our freedoms."

© 2000 Boulder Weekly. All Rights Reserved.

Rome warns the clergy not to get too familiar with the Devil
By Frances Kennedy in Rome. 17 September 2000

Italian bishops meeting in Turin this week will be grappling with a tricky linguistic question; how to address the Devil.

The Italian Bishops Conference will be considering how to implement changes to the official exorcism rite, approved last year by the Vatican.

For centuries Roman Catholic priests have used the classic Latin formula Vade retro Satanas to drive out the Devil. Now, like the Latin Mass before it, the phrase is being pensioned off in favour of invocations in the local language. In Italian, with two forms of "you", this raises the question of which is more fitting.

"Vai indietro, Satana!" would give the demon his marching orders with the familiar "tu" and seems the most likely choice. But pedants might prefer the formal "lei", more distant and used to address strangers or inferiors.

"I have always used Latin but I don't think the language change will make much difference," commented Father Corrado Balducci, an expert on exorcism and the paranormal.

"The exorcist rite is very brief, it simply orders the Devil out. There can be variations, you may invoke the Trinity or the Madonna, or recall that Jesus overcame temptation by the Devil" he said.

The Catholic Church distinguishes sufferers into two broad categories: those suffering "infestazione locale o personale" where the individual is under the influence of the devil but conscious; and "possessione diabolica" where the person is completely unaware what is happening and his body has become an instrument of the Devil.
"In the past decade the number seeking help from exorcists has grown dramatically. In this era of fear and anxiety many people convince themselves they are possessed; it's purely psychosomatic," said Father Balducci.

He estimates that of 1,000 potential cases only five or 10 are the work of the Antichrist. But he adds that it is important that exorcists are available and ready to help because otherwise people might take their problems to bogus maghi, or witches, who abound in Italy. Dedicated exorcists are named by the local bishop who can also delegate exorcism duties to ordinary priests.

The deliberations on how to translate the formula come after reports that the Pope recently carried out an exorcism. The Italian press reported that during a general audience ten days ago a 19-year-old Italian girl began insulting the Pontiff, speaking disconnected phrases in a strange language. The Vatican later said there had been no exorcism rite, the Pope had simply prayed with and embraced the girl.

In January 1999, the Vatican revised the exorcism rite introduced by Pope Paul V in 1614. Clerics were warned however to differentiate between "genuine possession by the Devil and severe psychiatric disturbances" and in an overture to medical science, were encouraged to consult doctors and psychiatrists if they saw fit.

Obscure Mail Fraud Statute Brought Ex-Judge Down
Crime: Jurist who had affair with the wife of a defendant in his courtroom was formally charged with twice misusing the mail for her benefit.

By , Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, Friday, September 15, 2000

     Former Superior Court Judge George W. Trammell's undoing wasn't in having sex with a woman whose husband was a defendant in a criminal case he was hearing, even if she did so out of fear Trammell would throw the book at her husband at sentencing time.
     And it wasn't, technically, when Trammell used his judicial influence--and taxpayer money--to help the woman recover a Mercedes-Benz, two Rolexes and other valuables that had been seized by law enforcement.
     What Trammell did that allowed federal prosecutors to file criminal charges against him was to use the U.S. mail when helping the woman, Pifen Lo, during their illicit sexual tryst in 1996.
     On Thursday, more than three years after abruptly retiring from the bench, Trammell was formally charged in federal court with two counts of mail fraud.
     The court filing containing the charges says Trammell used the mail to execute "a scheme to defraud the people of the state of California of their intangible right to his honest services as a judge . . . by means of false and fraudulent pretenses and representations."
     Authorities also entered Trammell's signed agreement to plead guilty to the charges and face as much as 18 months of prison time.*
     Trammell had faced a total of 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines in the case.
     Trammell, his lawyer John Barnett said, "is just glad that this matter will finally be concluded and he can put this behind him."
     "We think that this is a fair resolution to all the issues. This is a conflict-of-interest case. That's all it is," said Barnett. "He had contact with a party to a criminal case. And that's improper under the canons of judicial ethics. There's no agreement or factual basis to show that his contact had any improper effect on the case."
     U.S. Atty. Alejandro Mayorkas said Trammell's transgressions were far more serious than that.
     "This is a crime of the worst kind," said Mayorkas. "This individual, entrusted with the most sacred of responsibilities, abused his power and corrupted the administration of justice."
     It also is a crime that warranted a novel prosecution: An FBI agent and a federal prosecutor working hand in hand built the case with a little-used federal statute enacted specifically to pursue corrupt public figures who might otherwise escape prosecution.
     Trammell, 64, was one of the most senior Superior Court judges when he resigned in January 1997.
     Trammell's resignation--after 26 years on the bench--came one day after sheriff's deputies served search warrants at his house and chambers.
     A defendant in Trammell's courtroom had made allegations that the judge was having an affair with his wife.
     Soon the district attorney's office began investigating, and found that Trammell did have a sexual relationship with Lo, who was on probation. At the time, her husband, Ming Ching Jin, was awaiting sentencing in Trammell's court on kidnapping and other charges.
     Trammell said the relationship was platonic.
     But investigators concluded that Jin tried to blackmail Trammell "in an attempt to extort favorable treatment" during sentencing.
     That raised the specter of entrapment of the judge, who was familiar with Lo because she had been convicted in a kidnapping case in his courtroom a few months earlier. He sentenced her to probation, over the objection of prosecutors who had urged jail time.

     County Prosecutors Declined Case

     County prosecutors considered prosecuting Trammell on rape or other charges, but ultimately concluded they couldn't make the case stick.
     Then the California Court of Appeal ordered a judicial inquiry, which found that Trammell had been having sex with Lo for more than three months during the time her husband was appearing in his courtroom.
     Orange County Superior Court Judge Frank Fasel, who led the inquiry, found that Trammell had pressured Lo into submitting to acts of sexual intercourse if she wanted him to give Jin a reduced sentence.
     Trammell defended himself, saying he got close to Lo to protect himself from Jin and potential organized crime figures.
     But Fasel ultimately ruled that Trammell committed judicial misconduct, and ordered that Jin be granted a new trial.
     By early 1998, armed with Fasel's findings, the district attorney's office reconsidered filing conspiracy to obstruct justice charges and even rape under color of authority, but ultimately declined a second time.
     Then the feds stepped in.
     At first, federal authorities investigated Trammell to see if he had violated Lo's civil rights by pressuring her to have sex with him. The FBI and U.S. attorney's office concluded that they too couldn't make such a case stick, given that it would be hard to prove the sex acts weren't consensual.
     The case was referred to Assistant U.S. Atty. Jack Weiss and FBI Special Agent Tracey Silberling in the public corruption squad.
     They saw Trammell's appointment of attorney Dale Rubin to represent Lo at public expense as an avenue of attack, using a rarely used federal mail fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. 1346.
     That statute, part of the much-touted Anti-Corruption Act of 1988, had been enacted because the U.S. Supreme Court a year earlier had decreed that general mail fraud laws weren't created to fight public corruption.
     Specifically, the statute prohibits any public official from engaging in any "scheme or artifice to defraud . . . or defraud another of the intangible right of honest services."
     The prosecutor and agent looked further, and found that Trammell had directed Rubin to file a motion on Lo's behalf, seeking the return of her seized property.
     Rubin mailed the motion in November 1996, including an affidavit from Lo that the FBI now says Trammell helped her put together.
     That piece of mail was one count filed against Trammell on Thursday.
     The second was the $700 check for legal fees that Rubin got for helping Lo at Trammell's direction.
     "That enabled us to proceed," said Weiss, who has since left the U.S. attorney's office. "Ultimately, it gave us the federal hook we needed to bring the charges."

Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times

* I can't help but to engage in a little parody in our so-called "justice" system. Above, we are told that Judge Trammell faces "as much as 18 months of prison time." Yet today's news, (9/26/00) reports that a prison guard who had sex with Susan Harris, the woman who pushed her car off into the lake and drowned her two children, will go away for ten years in prison. Now you tell me, who retained more control over the situation, holding the greater position of public trust? A prison guard over an inmate, or a judge presiding over a criminal case of a wife's husband facing him for sentencing? Which? Oh, and let us not forget, Judge Trammell only faces as much as 18 months. What is your guess what he will actually receive? And do you think he will get  the same accommodations as any normal prisoner? If anything, he will doubtless face a federal country club atmosphere for politicians that holds a lifestyle that many of could not afford, complete with tennis courts and other resort goodies.
Also, let us note that the federal government states "it would be hard to prove the sex acts weren't consensual." Yet, in the prison guard's case, it didn't matter whether the sexual act was consensual or not, for the law strictly forbids sexual acts of prison guards with inmates. It is treated like statutory rape.
But judges? How is it that we would even question consensualality  between a judge and defendant or defendant's wife? Pray tell, under what possible circumstances is it okay for a judge to have sex with a man's wife while deciding her husband's fate, consensual or not? Tell me? Why is it "consensual" even a question? Have we gone insane? If anyone can give a reasoning on this, then I suggest we give free access of all male prison guards to the willing female inmates. Isn't it then just a matter of freedom of choice? And how about if the judge, instead of receiving sex, received money? Would it then be necessary to "prove" the money was not freely given? or have we now distinguished bribery based on whether it is "consensual" or "unconsensual?"
-Ron Branson
J.A.I.L. is an acronym for (Judicial Accountability Initiative Law)
JAIL's very informative website is found at