But so did everyone else: Is it even possible that Jeffrey Epstein actually killed himself?
After Epstein's death was announced, stampeding minds wanted to say and suggest that the answer just had to be no. But in this morning's editions, dear God:
In this morning's editions, the New York Times breaks every rule in the book. It publishes a letter from a specialist—from a person who actually seems to know what he's talking about!
We can't vouch for what the writer says. But if true, his statements are highly relevant concerning one of the topics which quickly swirled all around:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (8/13/19): The death by hanging of Jeffrey Epstein while in federal custody may have been preventable, but not by closer monitoring. By protocol Mr. Epstein was supposed to be checked every 30 minutes, but reportedly was not.According to Berman, that 30-minute monitoring regime can't, and frequently doesn't, prevent suicides in these prison settings.
Although it is a standard protocol for inmates and inpatients deemed to be at suicide risk, close monitoring by observers every 30 minutes, or more typically every 15 minutes, cannot prevent a death by asphyxiation that takes a mere four to six minutes to occur. Studies have documented that a large percentage of individuals who died by suicide in institutional care (36 percent in one study, 51 percent in another) were on 15-minute checks or even one-to-one observation at the time of death.
Many suicides are preventable by a variety of other methods, but not by close or frequent monitoring.
LANNY BERMAN, CHEVY CHASE, MD.
The writer is past president of the American Association of Suicidology.
Berman's letter doesn't address every question which has arisen in the wake of Epstein's death. But he seems to know what he's talking about, and his letter does address one part of the puzzle.
Sadly but typically, Berman's letter plays third fiddle in this morning's Times. It appears beneath two other letters—letters which are perhaps a bit more "conspiratorial" in their outlook and tone.
At the top of its hard-copy letters page, the Times has published four letters under this heading: "Questions Raised by Epstein's Death." For unknown reasons, this is the letter the Times chose to place at the top of the page—the letter it chose to highlight:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (8/13/19): The death of Jeffrey Epstein is stirring up conspiracy theories on a vast scale. Consider the rich and powerful people, often of dubious character, who surrounded him; his inexplicable path to wealth and social connections; the strange miscarriage of justice in his 2008 nonprosecution agreement in Florida; the odd circumstances of his conveniently timed death; an attorney general tainted by unseemly fealty to President Trump in charge of investigation; and the countless sexually exploited children that touch all aspects of his story.This overwrought writer already seems sure that we the people "will never know the full truth" about the matters at hand.
Any official conclusion is doomed to be unsatisfactory. You needn’t be paranoid, or subscribe to implausible scenarios, to believe that some people will escape justice and that the public will never know the full truth.
Also, some people will escape justice! You don't have to be paranoid to leap to such conclusions, he says.
The second letter on the pile also tilts toward the joys of prejudgment. The writer puts scare quotes around the word "mistake," and he's quick to advance the pleasing idea that this was all William Barr's fault:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (8/13/19): Six days after his first suicide attempt, Jeffrey Epstein was “taken off the suicide watch for reasons that remained unclear on Saturday.” For one of the largest pedophile cases in history involving high-profile politicians and individuals of enormous wealth and power, this “mistake” is an insult to the victims, the public and the justice system of the United States. This is the ultimate in corruption at the highest levels of law enforcement, and if Attorney General William P. Barr is so “appalled to learn” about Mr. Epstein’s death in federal custody, why didn’t he do his job to make sure this never happened?This writer asks a sensible question—why was Epstein taken off official "suicide watch," a regime which is much more stringent than the mere twice-hourly look-in. But instead of simply asking his question, he suggests that this was no mere "mistake," and he pleasingly singles out Barr.
There has to be a thorough investigation that confirms that this was in fact a suicide by hanging, and not another nefarious event that has surrounded the Epstein criminal case from the beginning. The investigation must continue against him and his co-conspirators even if he did take the easy way out.
P— T— C—
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIF.
This is the way the New York Times plays, at least on today's letters page, in the matter of Epstein's death. The paper starts with a pair of excited, know-nothing letters which shouldn't have been published at all. Only then do we see a letter from someone who seems to have something of value to offer—some actual information about one of the matters at hand.
Inside the paper, we actually move beyond speculation and excitement. A news report offers remarkable background information about the operation of the federal prison where Epstein died.
Ridiculously, the report is buried on page A17, inside the (local) New York section. Those excited letters were given a much more visible platform than this remarkable news report.
Why does the Epstein case seem to involved bad decision-making and procedures observed in the breach? Like those excited letter writers, we can't answer such questions at this point—but the information in this news report is stark and illuminating:
WATKINS, BENNER AND IVORY (8/13/19): One of the two people guarding Jeffrey Epstein when he apparently hanged himself in a federal jail cell was not a full-fledged correctional officer, and neither guard had checked on Mr. Epstein for several hours before he was discovered, prison and law-enforcement officials said.Why wasn't the 30-minute protocol followed by the two guards on duty?
No correctional officer had checked on Mr. Epstein for several hours before he was found, even though guards were supposed to look in on prisoners in the protective unit where he was housed every half-hour, a prison official and two law-enforcement officials with knowledge of the detention said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
In addition, only one of the two people guarding the Special Housing Unit—known as 9 South—normally worked as a correctional officer, according to three prison officials with knowledge of the case. The officials did not say what sort of job the other employee usually worked.
A New York Times investigation published last year detailed this practice, under which federal prisons are so strapped for correctional officers that they regularly compel teachers, nurses, secretaries and other support staff members to step in. The practice has grown at some prisons as the Trump administration has curtailed the hiring of correctional officers.
Many of these staff members only receive a few weeks’ training in correctional work, and, while required by contract to serve as substitutes, are often uncomfortable in the roles. Even workers who previously held correctional positions have said that the practice was unsettling because fewer colleagues were on hand to provide backup if things turned ugly.
Union officials said that for more than a year officials in Washington had been made aware of a severe staffing shortage at the facility in the wake of a federal hiring freeze. One of the guards on the unit where Mr. Epstein died had been working overtime for five straight days, while the other had been forced to work overtime that day, a union official said.
Try this: One of the "guards" on duty that night wasn't an actual guard! He or she may have been a nurse or a secretary—one who'd been forced to work overtime in a position for which he or she lacked training.
Meanwhile, the guard who was an actual guard was working overtime for the fifth consecutive day (and night)!
Were either of these staffers awake when they should have been checking on Epstein? In this report in The Daily Beast, a union official describes the astonishing lay of the land:
DALY (8/12/19): “Things just didn’t change,” Serene Gregg, president of AFGE Local 3148, told The Daily Beast on Monday. “They just do not have enough officers in the facility.”Gregg is describing an astounding state of affairs. But so it went as two "guards" failed to keep their appointed rounds on the night Epstein died—and here's an additional question:
Gregg reported that officers often complete a double shift totaling 16 hours only to find that their relief has not yet arrived. They then have to work another hour or two, for a total of 17 or even 18.
“That is our normal,” she said.
Anybody who refuses what is termed “mandatory overtime” faces disciplinary action, whatever their responsibilities at home.
“You’re choosing to feed your family,” Gregg said.
She added, “At some point, people are going to break.”
She noted that fatigued officers have had traffic accidents coming to and from work. Sometimes they get off duty with so little time before the next shift that it does not make sense to go home only to turn around.
“We have employees who sleep in their cars,” she said.
Do you feel sure that the official who took Epstein off suicide watch was qualified to make such judgments? Do you feel sure that that official was both alert and awake?
Michael Daly's report in The Daily Beast gets worse as it continues. With regard to the New York Times, it's amazing that the report we've quoted was buried inside the (local) New York section, while the high-profile Letters page opened with a pair of know-nothing missives from a pair of excitable readers.
Donald J. Trump let his crazy flag fly in the immediate wake of Epstein's death. He returned to "The Clinton Body Count," a place where many mainstream journalists have lingered down through the long, destructive years.
Those years ended with a person in the Oval who seems to be out of his mind. We'll review the history of that craziness tomorrow.
For today, we'll link you to another report in this morning's Times—a report in which a wide array of mainstream and liberal figures let their freak flags fly, raising obvious questions about their mental states.
Professor Tribe lets his freak flag fly; so does Rep. Al Green, advocate of impeachment. Mayor de Blasio is way out over his skis. So, of course, is Joe Scarborough, though he's still saying he isn't.
This report was also buried in the (local) New York section. It really belongs in today's Science Times, under a heading marked Anthropology—Mental States of the Human Race.
Aristotle is said to have said it: "Man [sic] is the rational animal." In a similar vein, "The American people are pretty sharp," star pundits constantly tell us.
Donald J. Trump went crazy again in the wake of Epstein's death—but the Clinton Body Count has been with us forever. Tomorrow, we'll review the history of that affair, which involves the pitiful mental states of top liberal stars.
We'll suggest again that it's long past time to experiment with the possibility of seeing the duck as a rabbit—to rethink the basic mental culture of our floundering human race.
Tomorrow: Trump is just the latest nutcase to play this crackpot game