May 12, 2012
The R&AW has been the target of considerable criticism in sections of our media over what they have perceived as its serious blunder in disseminating a HUMINT report regarding plans of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Pakistani terrorist organisation, to carry out major acts of catastrophic terrorism in Gujarat and Mumbai. There has even been a campaign of ridicule against the organisation which has been sought to be projected as nincompoop.
2. "The Hindu" of May 11,2012, has carried an eight-column report on Page 15 under the title
"R&AW Left With Egg on Its Face As Terror Plot Unravels" contributed jointly by Praveen Swami, who enjoys a tremendous reputation in media circles of New Delhi, and his colleague Muhammad Ali.
3. To quote from the first para of the report: " The Research & Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence service, is facing allegations of incompetence after three Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives who, it claimed, were about to conduct a suicide squad operation in Western India turned out to be living at their home in Lahore and to be businessmen, not terrorists." This gives the essential gist of the story.
4.There has been a negative projection of the R&AW not only by "The Hindu", but also by others.Along with its HUMINT report, the R&AW had disseminated pics of the three alleged terrorists of the LET who, according to it, had infiltrated into India along with two others to carry out the feared acts of terrorism. The Mumbai Police correctly released to the public the salient points of the report along with the pics as received from the R&AW. These pics were carried by a journal of Delhi on its web site. The three persons concerned, living in Lahore, thereupon appeared in public in Lahore and sought to ridicule the R&AW.
5. The definite embarrassment to the R&AW has been sought to be exploited in Pakistan for discrediting it. It has been projected as an example of the kind of baseless reports which the agency disseminates regarding terrorism allegedly emanating from Pakistan.The main objective of the campaign in Pakistan has been to discredit the R&AW in the eyes of the Indian public and the international community and to project its reporting on Pakistan-based terrorism as untrustworthy.
6. The brunt of the criticism in the Indian media has been over what many have seen as the propensity of the R&AW to disseminate uncorroborated reports and create false alarms and its perceived naivete in walking into a trap laid from Pakistan.
7.There are certain standard operating procedures followed by intelligence and security agencies all over the world regarding the handling of HUMINT or TECHINT reports which speak of an imminent act of terrorism. The most important point of this procedure is: Act on the report as if it is true until or unless it is proved to be false. Hence, all intelligence agencies immediately disseminate such reports with appropriate qualifications and simultaneously undertake a verification to establish the veracity of the report. If the veracity is not established, they call off the alert.
8. That is exactly what the R&AW has done and it would be totally uncharitable and unprofessional to find fault with it and ridicule it for doing what it was expected to do under the standard operating procedures. If one reprimands and ridicules an agency for doing what it was required to do because its report proved to be incorrect, it could hesitate in future to sound alerts on the receipt of HUMINT reports and that could prove catastrophic.
9. That is what those orchestrating the anti-R&AW campaign from Pakistan--- whether the Inter-Services Intelligence or the LET or both—want---- to create in the R&AW a mental hesitation in disseminating future HUMINT reports so that they can take advantage of it for carrying out an act of terrorism. The R&AW officers should not let themselves be inhibited from future reporting because of this campaign against it in Pakistan as well as in sections of the Indian media.
10. At the same time, there are some disturbing follow-up questions arising from this incident that need to be attended to. The first question is who was the human source--- is he a trans-border source or one based in Pakistan or some third country? If he is a trans-border source, is he based in India or Pakistan?The second question is, is he a new and untested source or is he an old and tested source?
11. If he is a new and untested Pakistani source, all that the R&AW has to do is to discard him. If he is an Indian source, there could be reason to suspect that he is a Pakistani mole. He would need to be arrested and interrogated .
12. If the source---whether Indian or Pakistani---is an old source all his past reports need to be re-examined in order to see whether any action had been taken against any Indian national on the basis of reports from this source who has now turned out to be tainted.
13. The other aspect needing attention is how did those behind the campaign in Pakistan notice so quickly the pics released by the Mumbai Police, unless they were expecting this to happen, and exploited it to embarrass the R&AW. This would clearly show a well-planned and well-executed operation to damage the reputation of the R&AW.
14.Normally, it may not be possible to carry out such operations without the support of accomplices in India. Are there such accomplices who played a role in this?
15.Incidents such as these are occupational hazards in the intelligence profession. This is not the first time this has been happening. We have had such incidents in the days of Khalistaniterrorism. This is not the last time this will be happening.
16. There is no need for the R&AW to be defensive or be apologetic about it. It should take it in its stride and hold a thorough enquiry into the whole affair to avoid the possibilities of such incidents in future. ( 12-5-12)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )
May 11, 2012
ISLAMABAD - United States ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter's alleged meeting with one of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation's most wanted men - Jamaat-ul-Daawa (JuD) amirProfessor Hafiz Mohammad Saeed - seems to be the principal reason for his premature exit from Islamabad, after having served just over 18 months since his appointment in October 2010.
Munter, a career diplomat, abruptly quit his job last week, hardly 24 hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared Saeed responsible for the 26/11 Mumbai carnage and announced that the US was prepared to work with India to bring the JuD amir to justice. The November 2008 attacks were 11 coordinated shooting and bombing incidents across Mumbai by terrorists who allegedly came from Pakistan. The three-day rampage cost 166 lives, including six Americans, with at least 308 people injured.
Munter's decision to quit the ambassadorship prematurely has
been confirmed by Mark Stroh, an embassy spokesman, who said, "He will be leaving this summer at the conclusion of his two years in the job. The ambassador had been weighing the option of continuing for a third year, but decided against it." No replacement has been named.
However, well-placed diplomatic officials in the federal capital claim that Munter's decision has more to do with behind-the-scenes developments that took place in Islamabad following the April 1, 2012, decision of the Barack Obama administration to put a price of US$10 million on information and evidence leading to the arrest and conviction of the JuD's Saeed. Saeed is also the founder of the pro-Kashmir proscribed jihadi organization Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). The bounty was announced for his alleged role in the Mumbai attacks.
Just hours after the US State Department announced the bounty, Saeed appeared on Pakistan's Geo TV. He said he was a free man - living in Pakistan - and was ready to speak with US officials at any time.
While some high-ups in the Pakistani Foreign Office claim that Munter has taken the decision to quit on his own for not being kept in the loop by the US State Department, there are those in diplomatic circles who maintain that the envoy is being made to resign by his seniors because of his seemingly soft line over Saeed's bounty issue, which has not gone down well with the Obama administration.
According to a report in the Indian Express, Munter had informed Washington that an apology "was in order" after a cross-border North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last year, but his advice was overruled by the Pentagon. "Pakistan's insistence on an apology for the NATO attack has emerged as a key irritant in moves to reset its relationship with the US after a year of crises that took ties to a new low," the paper reported.
However, the instant cause of Munter's exit is believed to be his clandestine meeting with Saeed that took place in Islamabad almost a month ago, after the US announced the bounty.
Diplomatic circles say the Munter-Saeed meeting was intended to remove misunderstandings created by the bounty announcement, which had prompted the JuD amir to step up his anti-US public campaign by laughing off the American action against him.
According to the sources, Saeed presented solid evidence to Munter, showing that he had no links to the Mumbai carnage. The US envoy subsequently sent a detailed report to the US administration on Saeed's viewpoint, but the State Department reportedly made it clear to Munter that it would not be responsible for any assurances given by him to the JuD chief.
To recall, following the bounty announcement, Saeed addressed a press conference in Rawalpindi on April 4 and dared the US to carry out a military raid against him like the one that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad a year ago.
Taunting the US to give him the head money offered for information leading to his arrest under the Rewards for Justice Program, Saeed said he would inform the US authorities about his whereabouts so he could claim the cash. "I am not hiding in caves and mountains, I am here in Rawalpindi. If the Americans want to contact me, I am present here, they can contact me. I am also ready to face any US court, or wherever there is proof against me or my group's involvement in terrorist activities."
Saeed then mocked the US bounty decision for someone who lives so openly in Pakistan. "These Americans seriously lack information. Don't they know where I go and where I live and what I do? These rewards are usually announced for people who are hiding in mountains or caves. I wish the Americans would give this reward money to me."
Munter, who is known for his conciliatory approach, decided to pacify Saeed in a one-on-one meeting in Islamabad that was kept secret and which is still not being confirmed officially by either side as it is perceived to be damaging for both parties.
The US Embassy spokesman in Islamabad has categorically refuted that any meeting between Munter and Saeed took place. "Ambassador Munter has never met with Hafiz Saeed and no US official has made any promises to, or agreements with, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed who is a wanted terrorist responsible for the deadly attack on Mumbai in November 2008 that killed 166 people, including six Americans. The JuD amir is subject to UN Security Council Resolution 1267/1989 sanctions and there is an international responsibility on the member states to bring the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks to justice," the US embassy spokesperson said in an official press release.
Approached for comments, JuD spokesman Mohammad Yahya Mujahid too denied reports of a meeting between Saeed and Munter, saying his amir was not at all interested in holding secret meetings with someone who represented the enemy of Islam and Pakistan. "[The United States] has butchered millions of Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere."
But the fact remains that Munter had declared in Lahore (soon after his alleged meeting with Saeed) on April 28, that the US government did not announce any bounty or head money specifically for the JuDamir and that the matter had been misreported in the Pakistani media.
"The Pakistani media is very active and responsible but it misreported the issue of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed," Munter said in reply to queries after the annual dinner of the American Business Forum at the Royal Palm Golf and Country Club in Lahore. "Though Hafiz Saeed is a suspected accused of the Mumbai terror attacks, the US government didn't place either a bounty or head money for him," he said.
Diplomatic circles in Islamabad say these developments were brought to the knowledge of Clinton, who apparently did not appreciate Munter's actions as they could be perceived as rolling back the tough stance that was later spelled out by Clinton during her Indian tour, when she bluntly reprimanded Pakistan for not taking any action against Saeed as the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks.
Delivering a speech in Kolkata on May 8, and lending support to India to fight terrorism, Clinton confirmed the bounty on Saeed. Calling theamir one of the principal architects of the Mumbai attacks, she said the bounty was meant to show solidarity with the people of India.
"I am well aware that the Pakistani government had not yet taken steps to help secure Hafiz Saeed's conviction. We're going to be pushing that. So it's a way of raising the visibility and pointing out to those who are associated with him that there is a cost for that," Clinton said, adding that Pakistan should do more to ensure that its territory is not used as a launching pad for carrying out more terrorist attacks.
Hardly 24 hours after Clinton's Kolkata speech, which clearly negated Munter's earlier stance on the Saeed head money issue, the US ambassador made public his decision to quit.
Amir Mir is a senior Pakistani journalist and the author of several books on the subject of militant Islam and terrorism, the latest beingThe Bhutto murder trail: From Waziristan to GHQ.
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An evening with Medea Benjamin (co-founder of Global Exchange & CODEPINK: Women for Peace) & Rafia Zakaria (Pakistani journalist & human rights activist)
Heartland Café | 7000 N. Glenwood ~ right off the Morse red line stop
Monday May 14th * gather at 7:00 PM program at 8:00 PM
Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange & CODEPINK: Women for Peace. Described as "one of America's most committed -- and most effective -- fighters for human rights" by Newsday, and called "one of the high profile leaders of the peace movement" by the Los Angeles Times, Medea has distinguished herself as an eloquent and energetic figure in the progressive movement. In 2005 she was one of 1,000 exemplary women from 140 countries nominated to receive the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the millions of women who do the essential work of peace worldwide.
Rafia Zakaria is a lawyer, journalist and human rights activist from Pakistan. She serves on the board of directors of Amnesty International USA and is co-founder of the Muslim Women's Legal Fund, which provides legal representation to Muslim women facing domestic abuse in family and immigration law cases. She is a columnist for the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, a blogger for Ms. Magazine, a blogger for Arguing the World, a frequent contributor to Guernica: A Magazine of Art & Politics, and the author of the forthcoming book Silence in Karachi: An Intimate History of Pakistan.
"In this remarkably cogent and carefully researched book, Medea Benjamin makes it clear that drones are not just another high-tech military trinket. Drone Warfare sketches out the nightmare possibilities posed by this insane proliferation." —Barbara Ehrenreich
"Activist extraordinaire Medea Benjamin has documented how the U.S. government's use of drones to murder hundreds of innocent civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen has increased the danger to our national security." —Ann Wright, U.S. Army Colonel (Ret.)
Spread the Word!
May 10, 2012
BY KANWAL SIBAL
Peace with Pakistan is a desirable goal, but peace should be equally desired by both sides and both should contribute to it in equal measure. The burden of making peace should not fall on India while Pakistan retains the freedom to disrupt it at will.
Normalization of India-Pakistan relations should not be predicated on demands by Pakistan and concessions by India. Historically, Pakistan is not a victim of India's war-mongering; it is India that has suffered Pakistani military aggression and jihadi terrorism. Pakistan is more obliged to convince India of its peaceful intentions rather than the reverse.
The notion that India as the bigger and stronger country has to be generous with Pakistan is egregious. If this principle should dictate the conduct of international relations then China should be generous towards India on issues that divide us- which it decidedly is not- and the US, as the world's most powerful country, should be making concessions to virtually all others- which it decidedly does not do.
Once again we hear talk about culling the low hanging fruit of Siachen in order to politically enable the Prime Minister to visit Pakistan towards the year end. This agreement will supposedly provide the required substantive outcome that can be jointly celebrated. Why India must make a territorial concession to make its own PM's visit possible and Pakistan need not act on terrorism is not explained.
Those who advocate withdrawal from Siachen- or more appropriately Saltoro as Siachen lies to its east- need to clarify whether we are occupying Pakistani territory. If we are, withdrawal could be mooted. If we are not, then why should we withdraw from our own territory simply because Pakistan contests India's sovereignty over this part of J&K and insists we accept its position. Should such obduracy inspire trust in its intentions?
The 1949 and the 1972 agreements delineate the LOC till NJ9842, with the line going "northwards towards the glaciers" beyond that. "Northwards" cannot in any linguistic or geographical interpretation mean "north-eastwards", but Pakistan and the US unilaterally drew the line several decades ago from NJ9842 north-eastwards to the Karakoram pass controlled by the Chinese.
In reality, because the entire state of J&K acceded to India legally, the areas not in control of Pakistan are rightfully Indian whether we physically occupy every inch of our own territory or not. We were compelled to occupy the Saltoro Ridge to prevent Pakistan (under a certain Brigadier Musharraf) from occupying it and threatening our hold over the Shyok valley and potentially Ladakh itself. Why should Pakistan have wanted to occupy these punishing heights if they have no strategic value?
Saltoro need not have "strategic" value if our borders with both Pakistan and China were demarcated, neither had any claim to our territory and relations with both were normal and friendly. It is because this is not the case that we are being compelled to position ourselves the closest possible to the source of the threats. Why withdraw to positions easier to hold physically and lose available defence depth? Should the army brass take decisions on these questions or the civilian authority?
Siachen is the Pakistan army's agenda. General Musharraf admitted that Kargil was Pakistan's riposte to Siachen. The argument that an Indian concession on Siachen will strengthen the hands of Pakistan's civilian government in its peace efforts is dubious as we are being asked to appease the Pakistan army for failing to dislodge us from Saltoro. How will placating it strengthen the army's disposition towards India and the civilian authority in Pakistan itself?
If prior to Kargil India was disposed to end the Saltoro stand-off by experimenting with Pakistan's trustworthiness, with reducing the human cost of occupying such forbidding heights as additional reason, after Kargil India has strong reason to be deeply distrustful of Pakistani intentions.
What is the guarantee that safeguards built into any agreement will not be violated by Pakistan at an opportune time, as happened at Kargil? Meanwhile, with technical and infrasrtuctural improvements the human cost has come down drastically. What is the compulsion to place faith in an adversary that still fails to address India's key concerns?
The jihadi groups in Pakistan still exist; Hafiz Saeed is not being curbed; those responsible for Mumbai have not been tried even after four years and to Kashmir has now been added the emotive issue of water. Pakistani defiance of the US on the issue of terrorism and truck with Islamic extremists has a lesson for India. Pakistan's Afghan ambitions remain problematic for the region. Any concession on Saltoro should has to be assessed in this larger, unsettled context.
Pakistan's movement on the trade issue is to be welcomed. In response, even without receiving MFN status yet, India has already commmitted itself to MFN plus treatment for Pakistan and permitting Pakistani investment in India without reciprocal action by Pakistan. There is no case for rewarding Pakistan also on military-security issues in addition
What happens if just before PM's visit to Pakistan to sign the Saltoro agreement there is a major terror attack in India? Will we postpone the visit? If this happens just after the visit and the agreement, will we freeze its implementation? What will that say of our political judgment? Terrorism remains the most critical issue.
Ideally, Saltoro should be part of an overall settlement of the J&K issue. As a first step, before any evenly balanced demilitarization eventually takes place as a CBM, the LOC should be jointly demarcated beyond NJ9842 along the Actual Ground Position Line, which we now seem to be demanding in what General Kayani sees as a hardening of our posture.
Let us stay this course.
The writer is a former Foreign Secretary
Dear Friends in the South Asian American Community:
I want to seek your help for Judge Sanjay Kumar. Judge Kumar is the only South Asian American on the bench in Los Angeles County. He is running for reelection and is being attacked by his "unqualified" (Bar Association determination) opponent for his ethnicity and ethnic sounding name. It is a cheap shot, but a tactic that has worked in the recent past. Judge Kumar is an amazing jurist and one that is highly regarded by all that come in to contact with him. In addition to his tremendous professional qualifications, I am compelled by his courage of conviction. He was advised to anglicize his name in order to fend off xenophobic attacks and innuendos from his opponent during the campaign, but he refused standing tall honoring his heritage and identity as well as his young children.
Please let me know if you can share this email with attachments amongst your personal and professional networks in support of Judge Kumar and his reelection bid. I have attached his letter to the South Asian Community and his remittance information. As with any race, Judge Kumar needs to raise a lot of money.
Below is a link to the South Asian Bar Association's endorsement of Judge Kumar. I have also copied and pasted an article that was sent to me that discusses the race.
Any help you can send his way will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your help.
City of Long Beach
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
JUDICIAL ELECTIONS: Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 10
Assistant Hawthorne City Attorney Challenges Judge With Indian Name
Kim Smith, assistant Hawthorne city attorney, is banking on his moniker to carry him to victory over a Los Angeles Superior Court judge with the name, "Sanjay T. Kumar." Smith, who two years ago ran unsuccessfully for an open seat and was adjudged by the Los Angeles County Bar Assn. to be "not qualified," is waging no discernible campaign.
SANJAY T. KUMAR
Jurist Wants to Retain Post But Won't Falsify His Name in Aid of Effort
"I love the job," Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sanjay T. Kumar says of his judicial post.
A lawyer named Kim Smith wants to take it away from him.
Smith, an assistant city attorney in Hawthorne, has challenged Kumar in the June 5 election. His ballot designation is "Criminal Prosecutor."
Although Smith has no discernible campaign, political observers do not discount the possibility of his winning simply on the basis of his name—which could be that of a woman—contrasted with that of the incumbent, a name that has a foreign ring to it.
There had been pre-election season speculation within the legal community that Kumar might, on the basis of his name, draw a challenge. The judge says he heard no such talk, declaring he was "surprised" when he learned that he had drawn an opponent.
Some wonder why he did not run as "Jay Kumar" or "S.T. Kumar." He explains:
"I have too much integrity to be changing my name for purposes of the ballot."
Kumar discusses his family background in the Spring, 2006 issue of the Los Angeles Superior Court's Gavel to Gavel magazine. He tells of his British mother, raised on a dairy and poultry farm in West Yorkshire, in the north of England, becoming a nurse at the local Halifax Hospital, and meeting an intern from the Northern part of India. Kumar writes:
"They were married in England and remained there to allow my father to finish his internship. After completing his internship, my father was offered a residency position at Harvard's Massachusetts General Hospital. Because of the prestige of this institution and the opportunities available in the United States, my parents immigrated to the United States."
That was in 1964. Sanjay Kumar was born in Boston on March 24, 1965.
His parents "eventually moved to Chicago where they raised my sister and me," Kumar notes.
He went through public schools there, attended undergraduate school at University of Loyola of Chicago, then came here and received his law degree from Pepperdine.
Kumar was admitted to the State Bar in 1990, and went to work for the state Attorney General's Office.
Though a neophyte, he was quickly assigned to handling appeals in major cases.
Charles Keating Case
Kumar in 1993 gained an affirmance in the state Court of Appeal of the 1991 conviction of Lincoln Savings chief Charles Keating Jr. for securities fraud in connection with massive sales of "junk bonds," primarily to elderly persons.
The California Supreme Court granted review in 1993, then changed its mind and, in 1995, dismissed review as having been improvidently granted, remanding the matter to the Court of Appeal. That court didn't act because federal proceedings were soon instituted challenging the state court conviction.
Kumar was unsuccessful in opposing Keating's petition for a writ of habeas corpus in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The writ was granted in 1996 because Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance Ito's instruction on aiding and abetting did not include reference to the mens rea element, breaching the defendant's federal due process right, according to the ruling.
The lawyer had been unable to persuade District Judge John G. Davies (since retired) that the federal court lacked jurisdiction inasmuch as the contentions had not been presented by Keating to the California Supreme Court in his petition for review.
Kumar did so convince a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which held in 1998:
"Because the constitutional claim raised in Keating's federal habeas petition has not been fairly presented to the California Supreme Court, Keating has not exhausted his state court remedies, and his petition for habeas corpus must be dismissed without prejudice."
Keating one week later filed a new habeas corpus petition in the U.S. District Court which omitted reference to the aider-and-abettor instruction. It was granted and the Ninth Circuit affirmed in 1999.
An Associated Press dispatch reporting that affirmance says:
"Deputy Attorney General Sanjay Kumar said he disagreed with the court and wouldn't rule out an appeal, though no decision has been made. 'As a prosecutor, you want to see that justice is done,' he said."
Certiorari was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000.
In 1994, Kumar obtained a ruling by the Ninth Circuit upholding California's criminal antipiracy statute relating to sound recordings against sundry challenges, including the contention that federal law was preemptive.
He was also assigned to defend the convictions of the Menendez Brothers, Erik and Lyle, who had viciously murdered their parents. A 1998 Court of Appeal opinion affirmed. Although the trial had been an exceedingly high-profile one, the arguments for reversal were viewed as routine and unmeritorious, and the opinion was not certified for publication.
The California Supreme Court denied review.
Becomes Court Commissioner
In 2001, Kumar was elected a court commissioner by the judges of the Los Angeles Superior Court. There were roughly 200 applicants, and Kumar landed the third spot on the eligibility list.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Sotelo was the Metropolitan Courthouse (traffic court) supervising judge in 2003 and 2004. He recalls:
"I watched Sanjay Kumar 'cut his judicial teeth' as a newly appointed Superior Court Commissioner. I immediately assigned him to a courtroom where the demands and strains could, and often still do, breakdown and expose the flaws in the character of aspiring judges. Although Court Commissioners are rigorously vetted and then selected by a special committee of judges, the committee really doesn't know if it has made the 'right selection' until the new bench officer is placed in the social reality of a variously demanding and busy courtroom. Commissioner Kumar passed that ultimate test with flying colors. He displayed and exemplified the emotional stability and serenity of temperament that Californians expect of judges, and as far as I know, he was never the subject of a Non-Stipulation.
"Clearly, that is why our Governor also vetted, selected and then commissioned Sanjay Judge of the Superior Court of the State of California. The fact that Sanjay has been invited to preside at the Court of Appeal speaks for itself: besides his flawless courtroom character, Judge Kumar knows the law better than most of us. Many of us knew that from the beginning. He's brilliant."
Kumar later was assigned to handle criminal matters.
"I had the privilege of supervising him," David Wesley, then assistant supervising judge of the criminal courts, recounts.
He terms Kumar's performance "spectacular."
Wesley, now the court's assistant presiding judge, hails Kumar as "one of the best bench officers on the Los Angeles Superior Court," adding:
"He's conscientious, he cares about cases. He's smart."
At the age of 40, he was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court. He was the first south Asian appointee to that body. Sunday marked seven years since he took the oath of office.
His current assignment is as a judge of the Appellate Division.
A year ago, he wrote the opinion holding that photographs derived from the Automated Traffic Enforcement System ("ATES")—that is, red light cameras—are admissible evidence of speeding. The opinion declares:
"[I]t is our view that photographs taken by an ATES may be admissible even if the testifying officer was not a percipient witness to the violation and was not personally responsible for setting up the camera. We conclude the accuracy of the photographs is subject to a rebuttable presumption pursuant to Evidence Code sections 1552, subdivision (a), and 1553. Moreover, apart from such a presumption, the photographs may be authenticated by a law enforcement officer who has knowledge about the methods used by the ATES to transmit the photographs to the officer's law enforcement agency. Finally, the data and images on the photographs did not constitute hearsay because they did not amount to a 'statement' from a human declarant."
Court of Appeal Decisions
Kumar served on assignment to Div. Five of this district's Court of Appeal in late 2010. A second stint, which ended last Feb. 29, was of a year's duration.
•In a Jan. 6, 2012 opinion, Div. Five held that the sister of a second-degree murder victim was not herself a "victim" of the crime, precluding application of the provision of Penal Code §3003 that "an inmate who is released on parole shall not be returned to a location within 35 miles of the actual residence of a victim of. or a witness to, a violent felony...." Justice Richard Mosk wrote the opinion and Acting Presiding Justice Orville Armstrong concurred.
Kumar's dissent says:
"The majority finds the word 'victim' to be unambiguous, then identifies some ambiguity by pointing out that there are various definitions of 'victim' under the law, vows not to rewrite section 3003, subdivision (f), and then rewrites the statute to delete murder victims from its ambit. I respectfully disagree with this approach.
"I would avoid rewriting section 3003, subdivision (f) and give 'victim' a meaning consistent with the California Constitution. With this approach, a murder victim's sister is a qualifying 'victim,' has standing to invoke this provision of the statute, and may request the paroling agency require the murderer, as a condition of parole, live over 35 miles from her residence."
Kumar notes that under Prop. 9—"Marsy's Law"—Art. I, §28 of the state Constitution defines "victim" as including the direct victim's "spouse, parents, children, siblings, or guardian."
•Fraudulent voting charges against state Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, were reinstated by the Court of Appeal on July 12, 2011, in an opinion by Kumar, after they had been dismissed by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy.
The Public Integrity Unit of the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office insisted that Wright did not actually live at the residence on Glenway Drive in the City of Inglewood which he claimed as his abode.
Kumar's opinion sets forth at the outset:
"Elections Code section 2026 provides, 'The domicile of a Member of the Legislature...shall be conclusively presumed to be at the residence address indicated on that person's currently filed affidavit of [voter] registration.' The statute was enacted to allow elected officials to obtain a residence near Sacramento yet maintain, for voting purposes, their home district residence as their domicile. The question before us is whether this conclusive presumption applies even if the address listed on the affidavit of registration is not one of the legislator's legal residences. We conclude it does not and grant the People's petition for writ of mandate."
The case is still pending.
•In an Aug. 19, 2011 opinion, which was not certified for publication, an opinion by Kumar invalidates a controversial action by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Hilleri Merritt. The opinion summarizes the holding at the outset, in these words:
"Real party in interest, Alberd Tersargyan, is the defendant in a criminal prosecution for murder. Petitioner, Los Angeles Times Communications LLC, has filed a petition for writ of mandate requesting this court order respondent superior court to vacate its order prohibiting petitioner from publishing photographs lawfully taken of defendant during criminal proceedings. We conclude the superior court's order amounts to an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech."
In the waning days of the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kumar came under consideration for appointment to the Court of Appeal, and is believed to have drawn highly favorable comments from the bench and bar.
"I really like research and writing," he says. "I think that's my strong suit."
He has the endorsements of 13 justices of this district's Court of Appeal, as well as 100 sitting or retired Los Angeles Superior Court bench officers.
Jurist Draws Praise
One of those endorsing him is Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Norman Epstein of this district's Div. Five, who says:
"I know Judge Kumar from his work as a California Deputy Attorney General and from his service as a justice pro tempore on Division Five of this district. He is an excellent and well-regarded judge highly worthy of retention."
Div. One's presiding justice, Robert M. Mallano, opines:
"Judge Kumar enjoys an excellent reputation among the court of appeal justices who have had occasion to review his rulings. He has a deep understanding of the law and is blessed with common sense. He has had a broad range of experience as a trial court judge and has served with distinction as a justice pro tempore on the court of appeal. I wholeheartedly support his re-election as a tried and true judge."
E-mailing from Albania is Los Angeles Superior Court Judge J. Stephen Czuleger, a former presiding judge. He says:
"Judge Kumar is a true asset to our court. I have worked with him for years and know that he is a strong mainstay to our operation. He is not only an excellent judges, he is leader on our court. It is simply a shame that he faces this challenge for obviously suspect reasons surrounding his name. I truly thought our community was beyond this."
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance Ito comments:
"#1 the challenge to Judge Kumar based upon his perceived vulnerability due to the ethnic nature of his name is nothing short of despicable. #2 he is one of our finest bench officers. #3 to kick a guy when he is down, having suffered the loss of his wife 6 months ago after a long and painful illness, is simply cruel and inhumane. I am glad our court's leadership and major players in the bar have rallied to his defense. I pray it is enough."
Kriegler Sums Up
Court of Appeal Justice Sandy Kriegler, who sits on Div. Five (the panel Kumar assisted), provides this tribute:
•The challenge against Judge Kumar is indefensible and despicable. Judge Kumar is simply one of the best judges in the State of California. There is no rational ground for an election challenge. The judiciary cannot afford to replace this superb bench officer with a candidate previously found by the County Bar to be unqualified for the position. The fact that the challenger's last two employers, District Attorney Steve Cooley and Sheriff Lee Baca, have endorsed Judge Kumar, demonstrates the easy choice for the voters in June.
•Judge Kumar is fair, knowledgeable, and unflappable, even in the most difficult of circumstances. It is just a matter of time until he is elevated to a higher court, which is where he belongs. The job he has done as a justice pro tem for the Court of Appeal over the past year has been remarkable. He has produced a large volume of diverse work, without the assistance of research attorneys, while interacting in a collegial fashion with the permanent members of Division Five. Every member of Division Five has profound respect for his work and we have greatly enjoyed working with him.
•Judge Kumar has distinguished himself at every step of his career. His work as a Deputy Attorney General was first rate. Despite his youth, he was assigned some of the most important matters in the office, such as the appeal of the conviction in the Menendez brothers murder case. He is one of the few lawyers to have argued two cases in the California Supreme Court in one day.
•Judge Kumar's election as a commissioner was quite remarkable. Although he was an outsider when he applied for a commissioner position with the Los Angeles Superior Court (because he was an appellate lawyer who did not frequently appear in the trial courts), he finished 3rd in the ratings out of approximately 200 applicants and was hired shortly thereafter. Judge Kumar quickly earned high praise from judges, who often sought his advice in criminal law matters. I believe he was twice placed in a position as assistant site judge as a commissioner, something which may be unprecedented, because it meant a commissioner was supervising judges.
•Since Judge Kumar's appointment to the Superior Court in 2005, he has had an impeccable career, often handling the most difficult and complex cases in the San Fernando Branch Court. Lawyers on both sides rave about his performance. The broad range of support he has in this election is a testament to how he is perceived by the bench and bar.
•Judge Kumar and his late wife, Jeanine, have two wonderful school-age sons. Judge Kumar, in addition to being a terrific judge, is a caring and devoted father. This is a quality human being who deserves to be reelected.
Kumar's sons are aged 11 and 15.
Challenger's Motives in Targeting Kumar Hit, Demeanor Rapped
Two years ago, in running for a Los Angeles Superior Court open seat, Assistant Hawthorne City Attorney Kim Smith boasted three endorsements, which he posted on the League of Women Voters website. That year, as this, he had no campaign website of his own.
The three were Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Arnold, and Redondo Beach City Attorney City Attorney Michael W. Webb.
Cooley told the MetNews in February: "I am very disappointed in Kim Smith, who is a former deputy district attorney, for undertaking the challenge for a very wrong reason."
The district attorney said that in trying to talk Smith out of running, Smith "did not deny" he was targeting Kumar because his Indian name renders him vulnerable to voter rejection.
Cooley asserted that Smith's candidacy was "deplorable and despicable."
Arnold now says:
"Judge Sanjay Kumar has an excellent reputation for being an outstanding judicial officer. He is smart and fair. Mr. Smith, to my knowledge, has never appeared in front of Judge Kumar. A challenge to a judicial officer who is doing a very good job because of his name, to me, is wrong, selfish, and repulsive. I am 100% in support of Judge Kumar."
"Although I have endorsed Mr. Smith in the past, in the current election I am endorsing Judge Sanjay Kumar who has an excellent reputation within the legal community as a brilliant, fair and principled judge."
Another supporter of Smith two years ago was Deputy District Attorney David Berger, who maintains the losangelesdragnet.blogspot.com. He still has high regard for Smith, saying:
"Kim Smith was my officemate in 1999 at the DA's Office. He was the kind of guy who you could always turn to for advice, even when he was trying some of the toughest cases. He has a great work ethic and was always well prepared."
Berger adds, however:
"I believe he would make a great judge, but I do question the wisdom of his decision to run against a sitting judge with an apparently unimpeachable record."
Judge Sotelo Comments
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Sotelo—who supervised Kumar in his first assignment as a court commissioner, hearing traffic matters—has this to say:
"It is an awful thing that a mediocre man and average lawyer named Kim Smith, a person with a reputation for racial and gender bigotry, would target Judge Kumar simply because Sanjay's father and his British mother named him Sanjay, rather than Harold Kumar. And it is even more disheartening that a so-called officer of the Court, an 'unqualified' man named Smith, would bank that Los Angeles voters will select him simply because his name is Smith over an 'exceptionally well qualified' judge who's name is Sanjay Kumar."
A judge, who requests anonymity, says Smith's reputation has been conveyed to him by colleagues in Torrance. He relates:
"All of our bench officers are repelled (and I mean unanimously!) at the thought of this man putting on a robe….[T]those that know Kim are of the opinion that Kim's nasty demeanor and intolerant attitude as an attorney, will only be exacerbated if he makes it to the bench. This even from a judge who a few years ago supported Kim on a previous run for judgeship: That colleague says he really didn't know Kim but endorsed him because Kim was a veteran. He knows better now."
A prosecutor in the South Bay sizes up Smith in these words:
"He is a strident overzealous prosecutor who seems to equate a courtroom with a combat zone. He does not seem to use discretion or much thinking before he speaks. That he is undoubtedly using his gender neutral American name to run against a reputable bench officer with a name of foreign origin to pander to the worse facets of voter prejudice is regrettable."
Hawthorne cases were moved last year from Department 4 in the Inglewood Courthouse to Department 7. The switch, a judge advises, was the result of Smith "causing a hostile work environment" in the former department.
The clerk in Department 4 is Kathy Evans. Stressing that she is speaking as an individual and not on behalf of the court, she says of Smith:
"He doesn't have a personal filter. If something comes to his head, he says it."
She relates that she was put in a "state of embarrassment" when Smith came up to her one day, in response to no inquiry from her, and showed her "a three-by-five photo of a black woman," whom he identified as his first wife. Evans is African-American, and Smith is white.
"I didn't know whether it was a flirt," she says. "I didn't know whether he was ingratiating himself to me. I thought it was bizarre."
Evans notes that Smith used to eat his lunch in the courtroom during the noon recess, while she would be working. He would routinely ask that she stop what she was doing and check on the status of cases for him, Evans says.
On July 7 of last year, she recites, she was too busy to accommodate him. She says, reading from a report she made to her supervisor, he went into a "tantrum, the likes of which I never have seen before"; that he "stormed into the jury room, slamming the door," spoke loudly on his cell phone, then returned to the courtroom, exiting, and "slammed his way out of the courtroom."
He was transferred a short time later, Evans reports.
Smith received his undergraduate degree from Occidental and his law degree from Southwestern.
He has served as a sergeant in the Sheriff's Department.
Two years ago, Smith vied with seven other candidates for a Los Angeles Superior Court open seat. He lost in the primary. The Los Angeles County Bar Assn. rated him "not qualified."
Lt Kevin Kishore Kaaul ( Retd, Indian Navy)
Office, US-+1562- 402-9323
Fax, US- +1562 402 9324
May 09, 2012
BALOCH HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
8 September, 2008
President Asif Ali Zardari
Islamic Republic of Pakistan
On behalf of the Baloch Human Rights Council, we extend our warmest congratulations to you on your election to the highest office in the country which we believe has ushered in a new era of democratisation, peace and reconciliation. There is no doubt that your election has dealt a severe blow at the dark forces of terror and dictatorship and has inspired a new hope in the oppressed peoples in the country, especially, the utterly brutalized people of Balochistan who have lost all hope in the state institutions of Pakistan. Islamabad's tyrannical policies have totally alienated Balochistan which has been deliberately turned into a huge laboratory of the worst kinds of human rights violations. Consequently the people of Balochistan rightly feel that their province has been turned into an occupied territory where state terror has become the norm.
We in the Baloch Human Rights Council appreciate your stand on Balochistan and welcome your efforts to address the historical grievances of the Baloch people. We firmly believe that the only way forward is:
a) To restore the 1973 constitution albeit with necessary amendments duly approved by the Parliament; for example the highly controversial concurrent list should be abolished and the smaller national constituents, i.e., Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP given more rights and powers including the right to own and exploit their own resources reserving a small but reasonable percentage of the income for the Centre. Furthermore, the national constituents should also be invested with the ultimate right to secede from the Federation in the event of any arbitrary military action.
b) To order the army to return to the barracks and dismantle the cantonments in Balochistan which have become synonymous with slaughter houses.
c) To bring to book all the violators of the present or past constitutions for usurping power through unconstitutional means.
d) To unconditionally release tens of hundreds of Baloch activists and ordinary people who have been "disappeared" and tortured by the authorities; and to take severe action against those responsible for these disappearances.
e) To bring to justice all those officials, whether civilian or military, who have been responsible for human rights violations in Balochistan.
f) To bring back hundreds of thousands of ordinary people (men, women and children) who have taken refuge in the neighboring provinces as a result of
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the brutal army operations. They live in the most appalling conditions and in complete squalor. The Federal government must take urgent measures to rehabilitate them in their ancestral homes and lands and compensate them in the most proper manner.
We do recognize the fact that you face enormous challenges; however, we fervently
hope that you will afford Balochistan your utmost priority.
With best wishes and kindest regards,
Akbar Barakzai A.Samad Baloch
Honorary President. General Secretary.