“Nickel-Bag Joe”: Ethics Of Executive Exoneration

By Robert Montenegro

Opinion Editor

Arpaio and Trump. (Reuters/Brian Snyder)

On July 31, 2017 the former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz. was officially charged with criminal contempt of court for his continued operation of a tactical stop-and-search detention program against suspected undocumented immigrants; in actuality the program was directed at anyone with brown skin. The racial profiling charges were scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 8. Then on Aug. 28, the sheriff received a full presidential pardon. The rule of law was hijacked. Justice was not served.

The self-proclaimed “Toughest Sheriff In America,” Joseph Michael Arpaio, aka “Nickel-Bag Joe,” has a long documented history of engaging in civil-rights violations. A glance of Mr. Arpaio’s misconduct follows: According to a May 2009 Phoenix New Times article, Arpaio’s office neglected to pursue the case of a 14-year-old rape victim named Abigail Brown. A 2009 ABC News report indicated that prison guards in Arpaio’s jurisdiction murdered an inmate, reportedly tied to chair while “…14 guards beat the prisoner and shocked him…” One 2011 AP report stated that “…more than 400 sex-crimes reported to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office during a three-year period ending in 2007, including dozens of alleged child molestations, were inadequately investigated…” “…32 reported child molestations…” “…where the sheriff’s office failed to follow through…” “…Many of the victims…” “…were children of illegal immigrants…”

Organizations such as American Civil Liberties Union, Anti-Defamation League and Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund have successfully sued Arpaio’s department for similar offenses. According to a 2016 USA Today report, lawsuits due to Arpaio’s office have cost the citizens of Maricopa County “…$142 million in legal fees, settlements and court awards…” Mr. Arpaio has created several paramilitary Freikorps-esque posses, on one occasion called his own prison a “concentration camp” and when in 2007 CNN a host asked Arpaio about his department being compared to the Ku Klux Klan, Arpaio replied, “I think it’s an honor. It means we are doing something.”

Now, in lieu of concrete data, one must speculate as to why the president of the United States of America would pardon a man with such a destructive legacy. Please consider the following: for twenty-five years, Mr. Arpaio was a special agent in not just the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), but it’s predecessors, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous (BNDD) Drugs and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), respectively.

During Arpaio’s agency-morphing tenure, several high-ranking intelligence operatives, such as US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations USAF Maj. Gen. Edward Lansdale, US Army Brig. Gen. Charles “Babe” Baron, USAR Col. Jack Alston Crichton, CIA Mexico City Station Chief Winston Mackinley Scott, veteran FBN special agent Col. George Hunter White, Civil Air Transport administrator Col. Paul Helliwell and Dirección Federal de Seguridad chief Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios, all had long, documented histories of protecting drug-trafficers in exchange for their cooperation in covert, “anti-communist” Cold War operations.

Mass-murdering narcoterrorists turned US intelligence assets included personalities such as Henri Dericourt, François Spirito, Jose Egozi Bejar, Juan Matta-Ballesteros, Lucien Sarti, Alberto Sicilia-Falcon, Santo Trafficante, Jr., José Miguel Battle Sr., Meyer Lansky, Yoshio Kodama and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to name a few. Some operatives supervised criminal operations on the ground-level, such as DEA operatives Lt. Col. Lucien Emile Conein, Adler Berriman “Barry” Seal, Oscar Danilo Blandón, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms agent Alfred Matthew Hubbard, USMC Lt. Col. Oliver North, Maj. Gen. Vang Pao of the joint Laotian-CIA-Hmong “Secret Army”, General Raoul Salan of the pro-falangist “Organisation armée secrète” infamy and CIA-funded Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists leader Yaroslav Stetsko.

Even Nazi-turncoat Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) agents such as Gestapo Capt. Nikolaus “Klaus” Barbie, Waffen-SS Col. Otto Skorzeny and SS Col. Walter Rauff were involved in US-sponsored Cold War narcotics operations during Arpaio’s two decade stint in the DEA.

Now, in light of these tidbits, the answer to “why a presidential pardon for Arpaio” becomes clear. Twenty-five years in the DEA, and not a single major drug trafficker brought down due to Arpaio’s command and control?! Just how many skeletons does Arpaio have in his closet from all those years in the DEA, stationed in Cold War hot-spots such as Chicago, Washington, D.C., Mexico, Argentina and Turkey? What history does the president not want broadcast to the American public? Imagine if Apraio’s full service record were exposed in a class action suit? If Lady Justice could only speak, she may whimper, “Et tu, Drumpf?”


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