Why Can’t Elected Officials Force DIA to Comply With the Law?

I stand amazed at how much the responses I’ve received from Sen. Roy Blunt, Sen. Claire McCaskill and U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner have varied since Jan. 13 when I contacted the offices of these people who purport to represent me and my fellow citizens in the Show-Me State in the U.S. Congress and asked for help in dealing with officials at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Ann Wagner FB Screen shot 2014-01-13 at 8.22.07 AM

Click image above to read article.

Congresswoman Wagner’s staff has been most responsive.  In fact, I received a phone call the same day I sent her both an email message and a message via Facebook.  Since then, I’ve exchanged multiple email messages with members of her staff.

Sadly, the congresswoman’s staffers have, so far, been able to generate only a cursory reply letter (dated Feb. 28 and received March 3) from James L. Kaplan, DIA’s Chief of Congressional Relations.

Senator Blunt’s staffers, on the other hand, have been a bit less responsive than Congresswoman Wagner’s, but not the worst among the Missouri delegation.  My correspondence with them began when I used the senator’s online communication tool to submit the following message:

Eighteen months ago, I filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Defense Intelligence Agency.  In it, I requested copies of unclassified documents related to polygraph contracts.  To date, I have been thoroughly stonewalled.  Now, I need Senator Blunt’s help to find out why.

Beyond that, I included a link to an article in which I had outlined my experience to date with the DIA.  Senator Blunt’s staffers responded — via snail mail letter dated Feb. 12, not the much-quicker email — by sending me a Privacy Act Release Statement which I had to complete and return by snail mail.

Blunt-Blunt-McCaskill-LtrsIn an auto-signed letter dated March 11 and received a few days later, Senator Blunt informed me that he made contact with DIA officials and that they had responded to his inquiry.  Attached to it was a letter from Kaplan that was virtually identical to the one Congresswoman Wagner had received from Kaplan 11 days earlier.

639 Days (so far)

Click on image above to read about my DIA FOIA saga.

Dragging up the rear in this race to serve their constituent are members of Senator McCaskill’s staff.  Despite the fact I had reached out to “Claire Bear” on the same day and in the exact same manner as I had Senator Blunt, it took her staff 92 days — or 34 days longer — to reply with a letter (dated April 9) almost identical to the initial reply received from her Republican counterpart.

So, what is all of the fuss about?  As of today, I’ve waited exactly 21 months for DIA officials to comply with requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and fulfill my request for copies of unclassified documents related to Department of Defense purchases of polygraph equipment since Jan. 1, 2000.

And why have DIA officials worked so hard to keep this information out of my hands? Read my book, THE CLAPPER MEMO, and you’ll begin to understand their reluctance.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Woman Continues Fight After Losing Mother, Granddaughter

A St. Louis-area woman who once told me she sometimes feels like the grief-stricken women in the 2008 film, “Changeling,” continues to fight for justice despite losing two very special people in her life due to actions taken by out-of-control government bureaucrats.

ChangelingUnder the headline, Government Burning Family Tree at Both Ends, I shared the horrifying true story of Janet (not her real name) Sept. 15, 2011.  It revolves around Janet’s two-pronged battle with county and state agencies in Missouri.

One of Janet’s battles involves fighting to obtain custody of her granddaughter after her daughter was no longer fit to care for the child.  Yesterday, she informed me that her granddaughter had been adopted out to a family in a far-away state about 18 months ago in a process that showed no regard for a state statute which requires Children’s Division officials to give preference and first consideration for foster care placement to grandparents of a child.

Janet’s other battle involved fighting to free her mother from a restricted-access long-term care facility.  It’s the same facility about which her mother’s physician once wrote “placement at this time would not be in the best interest of (Janet’s mother) with respect to her mental and physical health.”  According to Janet, her mother was drugged out of her mind for most of the time she spent in the facility and, during her last days of life — which happened to coincide with the date on which her long-term care insurance coverage ended — had food and water withheld from her.

While Janet said she cries about it every day, she seems at a loss as to what to do as she tries to get her granddaughter back.  Regarding her mother’s case, however, she is continuing to fight and claims to have many documents as well as months of videotape evidence regarding her mother’s maltreatment.  In addition, she is trying to obtain a copy of a toxicology report at this time and has enlisted the help of a local television reporter who has shown an interest in her case.

I plan to take a look at the documentation Janet has amassed very soon.  Stay tuned!

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Massive Underground Landfill Fire Nears Radioactive Waste

A massive, smoldering, underground fire at a St. Louis-area landfill is on the verge of coming in contact with radioactive waste dumped decades ago, and no one seems to know how to deal with it.  That’s what I learned during a public forum about the issue Thursday night in the St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights.

Rather than rehash who said what at the forum, I direct your attention to reports by KSDK reporter Grant Bissell (above) and Leisa Zigman (below) which combine to offer a snapshot of the most-pressing concerns of residents in North St. Louis County.

In short, a massive underground fire — which covers a subterranean area the size of three football fields — at the Bridgeton Landfill is about to come in contact with radioactive waste dumped decades earlier at the adjacent West Lake Landfill.

Why was radioactive waste dumped at the landfill?  Unbeknownst to many area residents, St. Louis was home to Mallinckrodt Chemical Works, a company that was the first to process uranium for use in our nation’s first atomic bombs as part of the World War II-era Manhattan Project.  After running out of space for the radioactive waste from their processing efforts, they began shipping it to other area locations, including the West Lake Landfill.  It remains there today.  On the surface of the Missouri River flood plain.  Exposed to the elements.

Click to read more reports in my coverage about radioactive waste in the St. Louis area.

Click to read more reports in my coverage about radioactive waste in the St. Louis area.

Aside from the long-term public health crisis involving what many residents describe as “cancer clusters” and other deadly affects of long-term radiation exposure, the most-pressing immediate concern is the fact no one on the planet seems to have experience dealing with this dangerous intersection where fire and radioactive waste collide.

As I stated in my most recent post, RADIOACTIVE WASTE CRISIS Like Plot From A Horror Film, I’ll be following the issues in North County closely.  Meanwhile, though I cannot attest to the accuracy of all of the information the websites below contain, I recommend you visit them to learn more about the potential scope of this crisis:

Coldwater Creek, Just the Facts Facebook Page;

Coldwater Creek Facts;

St. Louis Radiation Waste Legacy;

Weldon Spring Facebook Page; and

West Lake Landfill Facebook Page.

UPDATE 1/31/2014 at 7:09 p.m. Central:  Many of the members of the groups above are particularly in seeing the Army Corps of Engineers replace the EPA as the lead agency on cleaning up the radioactive waste sites in St. Louis.  If this news is any indication, I’d say they’re on the right track.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

RADIOACTIVE WASTE CRISIS Like Plot From A Horror Film

One might mistake it for a plot out of a horror film or a slow-motion Fukushima disaster:  Underground fires at one landfill move closer and closer toward radioactive waste dumped decades earlier at another landfill.  At the same time, thousands of citizens, including many already suffering from a plethora of what they believe to be radiation-related diseases, are seeking help from the “powers that be.”

Slide of Fires at St. Louis-Area Landfill

Representatives of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment presented an overview of the danger as underground fires at one landfill approach another landfill where radioactive waste was dumped decades ago.

On the evening of Jan. 15, I was one of almost 200 people who attended an informational meeting in Bridgeton, Mo., during which the issues above were discussed in great detail.  Among those in attendance were a handful of individuals who described how their lives had been changed forever by losses of loved ones to supposedly-rare cancers.  They were introduced as being representative of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of families in the area of North St. Louis County (a.k.a., “North County”) forever impacted in similar ways.

Yesterday, a fellow attendee at the meeting forwarded a copy of a 142-page report (PDF) published in May 1982 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  If you don’t want to download the entire report, however, the abstract alone is enough to cause you to pause.  Below, I share an excerpt from that abstract, complete with my red highlighting added for emphasis:

Click to download the 142-page report (PDF).

Click to download the 142-page report (PDF).

Results indicate that large volumes of uranium ore residues, probably originating from the Hazelwood, Missouri, Latty Avenue site, have been buried at the West Lake Landfill.  Two areas of contamination, covering more than 15 acres and located at depths of up to 20 feet below the present surface, have been identified.  There is no indication that significant quantities of contaminants are moving off-site at this time.

Fifteen acres of land contaminated with radioactive uranium ore residues at depths up to 20 feet below the surface and, oh yeah, elsewhere in the report in mentions that the landfill is in an alluvial floodplain, seemingly discounting the reliability of the last line in the excerpt from the 32-year-old report.

Click to read more reports in my coverage about radioactive waste in the St. Louis area.

Click to read more reports in my coverage about radioactive waste at the Weldon Spring Site in St. Charles County, Mo.

The NRC report is not, however, the first I have obtained about radioactive waste issues in the Show-Me State.  On Jan. 23, 2012, I was the only investigative reporter on the planet to report the existence of a then-new Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services report, known officially as the Analysis of Leukemia Incidence and Mortality Data for St. Charles County, Weldon Spring and Surrounding Areas December 2011 (Update to April 2005 Report) and unofficially as the “Weldon Spring Update” or “2011 Weldon Spring Cancer Inquiry Report.”

During the 13 months since publishing the first article, I published nine more articles (not including this one) in my series, Uphill Battle for Answers.  The two most-recent articles, here and here, introduced my readers to matters at the sites in North County.

Because of the intense interest surfacing in this subject matter, I’ve decided to expand my coverage of the issues in North County during the next year.  Until I begin sharing new reports, however, I suggest you read the Wall Street Journal‘s Dec. 29 report, Neighbors Fume at Radioactive Dump, by John Emshwiller and search online for other recent stories.

This will be interesting, so stay tuned.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Rush Limbaugh Newsletter Carries Rabbit Regulation Report

Today, I discovered the hare-brained story I wrote about Marty Hahne (a.k.a., “Marty the Magician”) being required by the USDA to write a disaster plan for the three-pound rabbit he uses in his magic show is featured on page 4 of the September 2013 edition of The Limbaugh Letter!

Limbaugh Letter Sept 2013This news comes one day after I learned that the Ozark, Mo.-based magician had traveled to New York City to be interviewed Friday by John Stossel for an upcoming Fox Business Network special about strange government regulations that should air in October.

Talk about a story having legs!  It’s been hopping coast to coast now for 64 days!

For previous stories about Hahne and others being harassed by USDA officials, read my series, Chasing Rabbits.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

John Stossel to Highlight Magician’s Rabbit Disaster Plan

A lot has happened during the 33 days since I broke the hare-brained story Marty Hahne (a.k.a., “Marty the Magician”) being told by USDA officials that he write a disaster plan for the three-pound rabbit he uses in his magic act.  Much like the rabbit-related tale in which he was featured two years ago, news of the USDA’s most-recent heavy-handedness went viral.
Stossel-Hahne

L-R: John Stossel and Marty Hahne

On Friday, the Ozark, Mo.-based performer found himself in New York City as a guest of John Stossel for a Fox Business Network special about strange government regulations that should air in October.

Before that, dozens of other new and traditional media outlets showed interest. Among them were:  David Burge of IowaHawk; Mark Steyn at National Review; Dave Urbanski at Glenn Beck’s The Blaze; The Washington Post; and Fox News.

Eventually, the media onslaught caused the USDA to backoff.

If you have an incredible example of government run amok, let me know.  Who knows, it might just go viral, too!

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

St Louis News Media Promote Medical Marijuana While Ignoring Alderman’s Felony Conviction

Laws that deprive people of medication — conventional or unconventional — that might help them as they battle potentially-deadline diseases are wrong.  Likewise, news reports that deprive listeners, readers and viewers of critical facts about are just as wrong.  Recently, the two wrongs converged in a suburb west of St. Louis.

Alderman Tommy Roberts

Tommy Roberts

News reports about St. Peters (Mo.) Alderman Tommy Roberts facing charges of misdemeanor marijuana possession and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia began surfacing in St. Louis one week ago.

Just before noon Aug. 15, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Mark Schlinkmann reported in his Political Fix column that the 3rd Ward alderman and former head of the St. Charles County Democratic Committee was facing the charges after St. Peters police were called to his home in the 1100 block of Spencer Road and reportedly found “marijuana and paraphernalia in plain view on a table.”

On Aug. 16, CBS News radio affiliate KMOV.com offered a shorter version of what the city’s only newspaper had already reported.

On Aug. 20, NBC News television affiliate KSDK-TV entered the mix, airing an interview (below) that concluded with reporter Talia Kaplan saying, “Now, according to a state statute, misdemeanor convictions won’t disqualify an alderman from continuing in office.”

Finally, KTRS 550 AM‘s McGraw Milhaven discussed the case of Alderman Roberts on his morning radio show twice this week.

On the first occasion (see video below dated Aug. 20), Milhaven offered a lot of sympathy for Alderman Roberts while blatantly promoting passage of a medical marijuana law in Missouri.

On the second occasion (see video below dated Aug. 21), Milhaven highlighted an off-air interview recorded with Alderman Roberts sometime after his show the previous day ended.

Unlike the reporters, editors and producers behind the reports above, the folks at two other St. Louis-area news outlets, KTVI-TV (a.k.a., “Fox 2 News”) and KMOX-AM 1120, seem to have missed the boat altogether* – and that’s not all bad!  At least they didn’t go out of their way to tell Alderman Roberts’ story while ignoring — or, perhaps, omitting — a crucial element of his story.

The crucial element?  Alderman Thomas M. Roberts Jr. (a.k.a., “Tommy Roberts”) appears to have been convicted of a felony years before he was elected to serve as an alderman.

Sadly, the only mention of such a conviction on any St. Louis-area news outlets appeared two days after St. Peters Patch published an article by Joe Scott.  A reader, who goes by the screen name “will,” posted his thoughts in the comments section below the article Aug. 18 at 9:27 a.m.  Among his thoughts, he asked a question:  Isn’t this guy already a convicted felon for being a drunk driving persistent offender?

According to records published on the Missouri Courts website, CaseNet, the answer to Will’s question appears to be “Yes.”  The screenshot (below) shows an address matching the one shown as that of Alderman Roberts in the above-mentioned Post-Dispatch report (i.e., the 1100 block of Spencer Road in St. Peters).

CaseNet Roberts InfoA second screenshot from the same site (below) shows Thomas M. Roberts Jr. pleaded guilty Oct. 25, 1996, to a charge described as “Dwi – Alcohol – Persistent Offender {Felony D RSMo: 577.010}.”  Also on Oct. 25, 1996, Roberts pleaded guilty to the charge, “Operated Motor Vehicle on Highway While Drivers License/Privilege Revoked (Suspended For Points) {Misdemeanor A RSMo: 302.321}.”

CaseNet Thomas M Roberts Jr

On Dec. 11, 1996, Roberts received a four-year prison sentence (suspended) and five years of probation in exchange for the DWI guilty plea. On the same day, he was sentenced to 14 days in the St. Charles (Mo.) County Jail on the other charge, and it appears he served that jail time.  On Sept. 29, 1999, he was discharged from probation, though no explanation or reason was cited for the early discharge.

So, what’s next?  Two factors might lead one to assume Alderman Roberts might plead guilty and be sentenced fairly:

• First, Missouri does not have a so-called “medical marijuana” law that allows citizens with prescriptions from their doctors to use the “wacky weed”; and

• Second, St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar told the KSDK reporter “unless or until the state legislature tells me and all other prosecutors that we have to treat these sorts of cases differently, this case will get no different treatment than any other misdemeanor marijuana case.”

Beyond that, one question is sure to arise:  Should Alderman Roberts should resign?

*EDITOR’S NOTE:  If I’ve missed any local news media coverage of this matter, please leave a comment that includes a link/details, and I’ll update this piece.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.