ROCKVILLE, Md. – “We don’t want anyone to give up on the fact that it could be a white guy.”
That’s what Montgomery County Police Officer Derek Baliles, part of the Beltway sniper task force here, told WorldNetDaily last week.
Never mind that authorities knew that several witnesses at the Virginia Home Depot shooting described “dark-skinned” suspects, corroborating an earlier witness account of two “Hispanic” men leaving the scene of one of the Montgomery County shootings.
“Anybody could put makeup on” to look ethnic, Baliles argued in an attempt to discredit the consistent description of “dark-skinned” suspects.
In fact, it turns out the sniper suspects, who eventually gave themselves away in unsolicited communications with police, are believed to be blacks – one a Muslim convert and the other an illegal alien from Jamaica. Both are expected to be charged today in the terrifying shootings, which killed 10 and seriously injured three.
Baliles was only taking a cue from his boss, Montgomery Police Chief Charles Moose, an outspoken critic of racial profiling.
Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose
Throughout the sniper ordeal, Moose refused to release a composite sketch or even a demographic profile of the sniper suspect, which would have helped the public narrow down who to look for. He explained he didn’t want to “paint some group.”
But from the start of the investigation, Moose targeted whites, pouncing on phone tips from girlfriends, wives and neighbors upset with white guys with guns.
The tips all proved to be dead ends. White men detained for questioning or put under surveillance had to be taken off the suspect list as alibis checked out and the shootings continued.
Police “did waste some time” chasing down white gun owners, acknowledged a federal law-enforcement official close to the task force, which may have bought time for the sniper team to cut down more people.
The ATF and FBI went along with the profiling of white gun owners, sources tell WorldNetDaily.
In fact, Mike Bouchard, special agent in charge of ATF’s Baltimore field office, boasted of confiscating a number of rifles from residents in Maryland.
Moose early in the investigation seemed more concerned with collecting guns than catching the sniper.
In an odd plea to the public at one press conference, he said, “You need to ask yourself: Who do you know that owns guns, and why?”
A homeland-security official in the Bush administration says the obsession with white gun owners developed under the previous administration, which pushed for tighter gun controls and refocused FBI efforts on so-called “right-wing” militia groups.
“This is the result of Clinton and his liberal ilk going after law-abiding white gun owners for eight years,” the official said, under the condition he not be named. “God forbid the FBI look into black Muslims.”
Regular White Guys
In profiling mass murderers, FBI behaviorists follow a formula that hasn’t changed much over the past decade – even after Sept. 11.
It’s called “RWG,” or regular white guys.
I.C. Smith, an FBI counterintelligence veteran, explains how it was applied in the sniper case.
“First you start with the statistic that 80 to 90 percent of all (serial) shooters are white guys. Then you back out the guys happily married. That leaves the introspective loner types,” he said in a WorldNetDaily interview. “So you end up with a pretty small part of the population.”
Of course, that residual excludes Muslims – who tend to be black or foreign, not white.
The task force’s operating assumption that the sniper was a lone, unstable white male came from the FBI’s stock profile developed from the Timothy McVeigh and Ted Kacyznski cases, sources close to the investigation say.
The face of American terror has a darker complexion now, yet profilers haven’t updated the model.
“Point is, they have never profiled potential (Islamic) terrorists,” Smith said.
He notes that FBI profilers spend most of their careers at Quantico, Va., the Marine Corps base where FBI profilers do some teaching and handle profiling requests from mainly local and state police agencies.
“Most of them have probably never been to a crime scene,” Smith said. “Most find time to get advanced degrees and get material to write books when they retire.”
He also notes that all of the profilers (including some prominent ex-FBI behaviorists) and criminologists on TV during the shooting crisis missed the mark in their analysis of the sniper.
The consensus was that he’s a “white” “loner” who kills just for the “thrill,” rather than out of some deep-seated religious belief or cause.
They were wrong on all counts – number of suspects, physical description and motive.
“These profilers misled the public,” Smith said. “They did more harm than good.”
Slurs against whites
Moose’s personal attitudes about whites might also have played a factor in the task force’s early decision to go after white gun owners, suggest officials familiar with the sniper case.
As police chief in Portland, Ore., he made racial slurs against whites who he thought were discriminating against him, according to local press reports.
In 1999, he got Portland officers and state police to sign a resolution against profiling of blacks in the state, regardless of their statistical propensity to commit certain crimes compared with whites.
He then ended the practice in Montgomery County soon after taking the $125,000 police chief job, making the Maryland county the first local government in the Mid-Atlantic region to launch a program approved by the Clinton Justice Department to discourage profiling.
Moose, a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the Civil Rights Committee, also is a big fan of community policing, another Clinton hobbyhorse.
As the de facto leader of the task force, Moose tried to smear as not credible all witness descriptions of “dark-skinned” suspects in the Home Depot shootings with the announcement that just one of the several witnesses at the scene lied.
The media threw the baby out with the bath water, never pressing police to present the good witnesses and what they had to say, along with the one bad witness, Matthew Dowdy.
Baliles said “everything” the credible witnesses told police was “thrown out,” because “even skin tone would be hard to describe under those lights” in the Home Depot parking garage. And the Fairfax County Police Department agreed to “re-interview” those witnesses.
Fairfax County Police spokeswoman Isabel Benemelis said new statements were taken from “several” witnesses.
No white guys spotted
But their accounts of what they saw were never publicly released.
Asked if any of them ever described the suspects as “white,” Benemelis paused. Then she said: “I can’t get into specifics about witness statements.”
Baliles also dodged the question.
Astonishingly, the task force took three weeks to reach out to the immigrant community for tips in the sniper case.
On Oct. 3, a witness described two “Hispanic” men leaving the scene of one of the Maryland shootings in a white box truck. Investigators now believe the sniper team may never have actually used such a truck.
But at the time, the police thought enough of the witness account to put it in a BOLO, or be-on-the-lookout, alert that went out to federal law-enforcement agencies, as WorldNetDaily first reported Oct. 4.
Of course, that description didn’t fit the stock profile of a mass murderer – the white male loner.
So instead of canvassing immigrant neighborhoods for leads, the police, led by Moose, ran down tips about white gun owners.
They operated under the assumption the shooter had to be white, even though U.S. intelligence recently released a warning to law enforcement that al-Qaida planned to carry out small-scale terrorist acts in America using lower-profile black Muslims rather than Arab Muslims.
At the same time, the task force knew that black Muslims in Oregon – Moose’s old home – had just been arrested for conspiring to wage war against the U.S. and support al-Qaida. Authorities became suspicious after spotting members of the terrorist cell firing rifles at targets.
It’s not clear how Moose assumed so much authority at the command post here.
Despite the fact that more of the shootings occurred outside Moose’s jurisdiction, he was “designated” by other agencies as the official spokesman for the task force, confirms task force spokesman Larry Scott, an ATF agent.
However, Scott says Moose shared decision-making authority regarding task force strategy with Bouchard and Gary Bald, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore field office. The three made up the task force “management team,” he said.
Responding last week to criticism of his performance, Moose said, “There’s nothing here that’s about me.”