Disgraced former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was sentenced to three years in prison last week for covering up wrongdoing in the LA County Jail, which is run by the Sheriff’s Dept. and was under FBI investigation. Specifically, he sent his deputies to hide a prisoner who was an FBI informant and to the home of the investigating FBI agent to intimidate her. He also lied to agents about his role.
As a retired DEA agent, I never find joy in seeing a corrupt law enforcement official uncovered, but I believe in harsh punishment for those who betray their oath of office. I think Baca deserved more time behind bars. During his trial, he made a mockery of the system by first agreeing to a plea deal then withdrawing it when the judge refused to go along with a ridiculously lenient sentence. He tried to wear his uniform at the trial in an effort to win sympathy from the jurors. The judge denied that request. His attorneys asked for a sentence of home confinement arguing that Baca is in the early stages of Alzheimers disease. In the end, the judge gave him a sentence longer than the two years requested by the federal prosecutors.
His corruption was not the only problem with Baca. While in office, Baca aligned himself with virtually all of the top Islamic officials and organizations in Southern California, such as the Shura Council, CAIR, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council. He was an apologist for radical Islamists because he denied there was any problem within the mosques in his jurisdiction (other than Islamophobia). I saw Baca in person at several Islamic-sponsored events. In 2012, I saw him take part in a panel at the Islamic Center of Orange County hosted by head imam Muzammil Siddiqi. The topic was sharia law and how it “was perfectly compatible with the US Constitution”, a lie if ever there was one.
At the above event, I also saw another problematical law enforcement officer, not from a corruption standpoint, but from a judgmental one. That was (now-retired) chief of the LAPD counter terrorism unit, Michael Downing. I found it odd that he and three of his officers would appear at an Orange County event in their uniforms since they were out of their jurisdiction. I found it even odder that Downing would proclaim to the audience that sharia law was compatible with our Constitution. After the event, I spoke with Downing and told him that in 1992, Imam Siddiqi had hosted the so-called “Blind Sheikh”, convicted terrorist Omar Abdel Rahman at the same mosque and had translated his sermon in real time into English. Downing’s response?
“Well, Gary, you know some people change over time.” Hardly the kind of statement you would expect from a cop.
To be clear, it is not improper for law enforcement to develop relations within the Muslim community. It is one way to gain intelligence and develop sources. It is not improper to protect their rights and act if they are the victim of hate crimes. It is quite another to become advocates for individuals and organizations that are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, the latter a US State Dept-designated terrorist organization, and the former one that should be so designated. It is also another thing to help propagate the lie that sharia law is compatible with our own laws. Sharia has clear discrimination against women and non-Muslims and mandates a death sentence for apostasy, blasphemy, adultery, and homosexual acts. I would like for Messrs. Baca and Downing to explain to me how that fits in with US laws.
I am glad that both of these men are gone, Downing in his retirement and Baca in prison. (He is supposed to surrender in late July.) Good riddance to both. Hopefully, their successors will exercise better judgement while looking out for the rights and safety of all, law-abiding Muslims and non-Muslims. Hopefully, they will spend their leisure time learning more about sharia law.
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