The Media Trial Of James Holmes
The media trial of James Holmes began the second we learned his name. After the name we got a still shot of his face, and after that, his first appearance in court, where he acted either chemically restrained or maybe just plain crazy.
Unfortunately it looks like a media trial may be all we can expect, considering the formal judicial process has been sealed tighter than Mitt Romney’s tax history. This from the Denver Post editorial:
In the hours after the horrific Aurora theater shootings, law enforcement authorities were reasonably frank in telling the public what had happened.
All that came to a screeching halt when the criminal case for the alleged shooter hit the court system.
The case is proceeding under such sweeping secrecy rules that the public cannot even see the case docket, which is akin to a table of contents. The orders have gone far beyond the typical “gag order.”
That is why The Denver Post and other media outlets filed a motion Friday asking the judge in the case to reconsider the information lockdown and allow public inspection of routine court documents.
The secrecy in the case has been disturbing. Mandating that the University of Colorado, for instance, not release any records regarding the shooting suspect, James Eagan Holmes, is a step too far and one that appears unprecedented.
This quick move by the courts to lock this case up is an obvious red flag. When I finally got some time to go digging, the online terrain quickly began looking like a rabbit hole into all kinds of tangential weirdness.
For example, this reporting by ABC news features an 18 year old James Holmes speaking at science camp about “temporal illusions”
I’ll try to get back to temporal illusions, but I want to move on from this alleged mass killer to his dad, Robert Holmes.
HNC Software Inc. is San Diego’s largest software company and develops predictive software solutions for business-to-consumer service companies. These solutions allow companies to make more intelligent and profitable decisions and are marketed to industries- including financial, insurance, retail, telecommunications and the Internet.
Like many San Diego-based software companies, HNC Software Inc. traces its origins to the defense industry. When the company was launched in 1986, it focused on defense-related research and development. But over the years as defense budgets shrank not only in San Diego, but nationwide, HNC quickly realized that in order to succeed and grow, other commercial applications had to be found for its products.
But perhaps the most exciting frontier awaiting exploration and commercial development by HNC is in an area that scientists still know very little about: the human brain. HNC is working on a long-term research project launched in 1998 that is jointly funded by HNC and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), part of the U.S. Defense Department, to investigate ‘cortronic neural networks,’ a concept originally proposed by Robert Hecht-Nielsen, HNC’s co-founder and chief scientist.
HNC hopes to develop new capabilities in the areas of textual, aural and visual representation, and to actually build three new predictive, neural-net based systems: one that reads, interprets and searches text more effectively; a second recognizing speech and other sounds, enabling users to perform audio searches; and a third that can scan for and interpret images. The ultimate goal is to integrate all three systems. The net result – machines that someday might be able to reason like humans.
“This is the most important scientific challenge of our time, and finding the answer will be the adventure of the millennium,” says Hecht-Nielsen.
I guess studying the brain, for James, was like continuing the family business.
Then there’s this bit of background about Granddad:
James Holmes, the man believed responsible for killing 12 people Friday during one of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, is the grandson of a decorated military veteran who was a respected educator at prestigious York School in Monterey.
Lt. Col. Robert M. Holmes, who served in the Okinawa campaign during World War II, retired in 1963 as the last commander of the Nike missile group in San Francisco Bay. He was one of the first Turkish language students at the Army Language School, now the Defense Language Institute, graduating in 1948, a school spokesman confirmed Friday.
A smart kid with a family legacy to live up to makes a prime candidate for a psychotic break, right? He was withdrawing from school, maybe broke up with a girlfriend, into gaming, it all makes sense.
But it doesn’t make sense. A commando-style maniac in ballistic armor who just killed or or injured almost 80 people is apprehended by his car without a fight?
It doesn’t help that the initial reports about James’ allegedly aggressive behavior in jail turned out to be false:
Sources familiar with the detention of theater shooting suspect James Holmes say his low-key detached demeanor has not changed since he was taken into custody early Friday morning.
According to knowledgeable sources, reports that Holmes was spitting at guards in jail are “simply false.”
And then there’s the questions surrounding the notebook supposedly sent to Holmes’ psychiatrist:
That story about the notebook James Holmes supposedly mailed to a psychiatrist, outlining his plans to shoot up the movie theater was a hell of a scoop for Fox News, but now Aurora prosecutors are saying in a court filing that it was probably all a big hoax. The new doubts come from a motion prosecutors filed Friday, saying the package from Holmes, discovered in a University of Colorado mailroom, hadn’t yet been inspected and any report of its contents — that would be the notebook — couldn’t be trusted. “The contents were secured and not examined, and held for potential in camera review,” the motion says. The motion comes in response to one from Holmes, and argues that his rights to a fair trial hadn’t been violated (as he’d claimed) by that leaked information because the supposed leaks were either hoaxes the reporters fell for, or made up by the reporters themselves. For evidence, the motion cites two facts it says reporters for Fox News and NBCNews.org got wrong.
One tangent I came across even speculates whether or not James Holmes was involved in the killing at all based on the position of a gas mask and a security camera.
So far, the mainstream media hasn’t delved too deeply into any of the weirdness surrounding this mass killing. The Olympics and the presidential race have already snatched back much of the national attention after a week of political posturing around gun laws.
That leaves us with online news reports, like this Huffington Post piece reporting the “expert” opinion of jailers:
James Holmes, the suspected shooter in last week’s movie theater massacre, has told his Colorado jailers he doesn’t know why he’s locked behind bars, the Daily News reports.
But no one at the Arapahoe County Detention Center is buying Holmes’ story, a lockup worker told the News. The jailers who come in contact with Holmes, who is sequestered from other inmates, believe he’s faking amnesia.
I didn’t know “lockup workers” were qualified to make such assessments. Is this the kind of reporting we can expect from the unofficial media trial of James Holmes?
To come back around to temporal illusions, this Cannonfire piece takes some wild swipes, speculating on the alleged perpetrator’s possible dalliance in hypnosis.
Exploring that line of thought one finds the obligatory mention of MK Ultra (from a Wired article not related to this case):
1953: Central Intelligence Agency director Allen Dulles authorizes the MK-ULTRA project. The agency launches one of its most dubious covert programs ever, turning unsuspecting humans into guinea pigs for its research into mind-altering drugs.
More than a decade before psychologist Timothy Leary advocated the benefits of LSD and urged everyone to “turn on, tune in, drop out,” the CIA’s Technical Services Staff launched the highly classified project to study the mind-control effects of this and other psychedelic drugs, using unwitting U.S. and Canadian citizens as lab mice.
Dulles wanted to close the “brainwashing gap” that arose after the United States learned that American prisoners of war in Korea were subjected to mind-control techniques by their captors.
Loathe to be outdone by foreign enemies, the CIA sought, through its research, to devise a truth serum to enhance the interrogations of POWs and captured spies. The agency also wanted to develop techniques and drugs — such as “amnesia pills” — to create CIA superagents who would be immune to the mind-control efforts of adversaries.
It was pointed out at one of the message boards I visited to research this post that seven years ago, the CIA moved the headquarters of its domestic division to Denver (Washington Post):
The CIA has plans to relocate the headquarters of its domestic division, which is responsible for operations and recruitment in the United States, from the CIA’s Langley headquarters to Denver, a move designed to promote innovation, according to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials.
About $20 million has been tentatively budgeted to relocate employees of the CIA’s National Resources Division, officials said. A U.S. intelligence official said the planned move, confirmed by three other government officials, was being undertaken “for operational reasons.”
A CIA spokesman declined to comment. Other current and former intelligence officials said the Denver relocation reflects the desire of CIA Director Porter J. Goss to develop new ways to operate under cover, including setting up more front corporations and working closer with established international firms.
This horrible tragedy in Aurora raises a lot of questions, but with a judicial process committed to secrecy, we can’t expect much in terms of answers. James Holmes will instead be tried by the media, and I doubt the initial depiction of him being a psychotic lone wolf will be challenged.
Which is too bad, because I don’t think James Holmes was the only person involved in this shooting.