Hostage Situation at Clinton Campaign Office (UPDATED)

Breaking, from TPM:

From local WCVP-TV in Boston comes some frightening news::

BOSTON — A man took people hostage Friday at a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign office in New Hampshire, police said.The incident happened at about 1 p.m. Friday at 28 North Main St. in Rochester. Officials said that a man is holding people hostage at the office, but it is unclear how many people are being held.

The St. Elizabeth Seaton School and other surrounding buildings have been locked down.

Hillary is not there — she’s in Washington, D.C., at the Democratic National Committee meeting.

And more from MSNBC:

The man claimed to have bomb strapped to him when he walked into the office in Rochester, WHDH-TV reported.

Police have surrounded the building, evacuated the immediate area and placed other buildings, including a nearby school, in lockdown.

Clinton, who was scheduled to campaign in Virginia on Friday, was not present at the office on Rochester’s Main Street.

The number of hostages was not immediately known.

I have no idea where this is coming from, but it’s scary.

UPDATE: More from the MSNBC article:

WMUR-TV quoted a woman, Lettie Tzizik, saying she spoke to someone who said she had just been released by the man.

“A young woman with a 6-month or 8-month-old infant came rushing into the store just in tears, and she said, ‘You need to call 911. A man has just walked into the Clinton office, opened his coat and showed us a bomb strapped to his chest with duct tape,'” Tzikik said, recalling the moment.

Senator Clinton is in Virginia, speaking at the DNC’s fall meeting–According to a source in attendance, Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean just announced that Clinton is canceling her speech and leaving the meeting to deal with the situation.

UPDATE II: CNN is now reporting that there are two hostages being held in the campaign office.

UPDATE III: MSNBC is saying that the hostage-taker is a man in his 40’s with salt-and-pepper hair. In addition, they report that negotiations have begun:

Police surrounded the building, evacuated the immediate area and placed other buildings, including a nearby school, under lockdown.

“There are sharpshooters on the roof, and police are negotiating with someone in the building,” another witness told WMUR-TV. “There are fire trucks behind the Hillary Clinton office.”

WNBC-TV in New York quoted an unidentified law enforcement source as saying the man wanted to speak with Clinton.

[Emphasis Added]

Again, scary stuff. I have no idea how this will play out or what this man wants, but hopefully everyone will be okay.

UPDATE IV: Barack Obama and John Edwards both have offices in N.H. close to Clinton’s, and both of those offices have been closed and evacuated as a precaution.

In addition, the Clinton campaign has released a statement:

“We are in close contact with state and local authorities and are acting at their direction. We will release additional details as appropriate.”

UPDATE V: CNN reports that the hostages have been released:

Two people held hostage at Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign office in Rochester, New Hampshire, have been freed, CNN affiliate WMUR said Friday.

Neither hostage was harmed, another affiliate, WCVB, reported on its Web site.

CNN has confirmed that at least one hostage has walked free, about two hours after the situation began.

UPDATE VI: As of 3:20, CNN is reporting that the man is still in the campaign office. Is it over? It doesn’t feel like it…

UPDATE VII: The main remains in the office, but MSNBC has obtained some details on who he is:

The man, who was not identified by name, is known to local authorities and has behaved erratically in the past, a source told NBC News’ Pete Williams. The source, who was not identified, told Williams the man went to a local hardware store earlier Friday, where he apparently bought some of the material he wore into the campaign office.

This seems to be just a disturbed man making a scene, but the question here is whether or not he’s really dangerous or not. In a situation like this, you take no chances.

UPDATE VIII: Fox News is reporting, via The Huffington Post, that the hostage taker is a man named Troy Stanley:

Fox News reports Troy Stanley’s son called authorities to say the Hillary Clinton campaign hostage taker was his dad, Troy Stanley. He added that his father bought flares at a local hardware store, and that is what is strapped on. The son says he does not have a bomb, just flares.

Other witnesses said Stanley claimed in recent months that there was a government conspiracy against him. He is reportedly recently divorced.

UPDATE IX: More on the hostage taker’s mental state, from Raw Story:

Stanley apparently had “been drinking for 72 hours” and inquired about where to buy roadside flares before telling his stepson to watch the news tonight, according to the witness.

Update X: Now CNN’s reporting that there is believed to be one hostage remaining in the office:

By 4 p.m., three people, including a young child, had been released. At least one more person, a woman, was thought to still be inside.

And The Huffington Post has more on the hostage taker:

Fox News talked to a friend of Troy Stanley, Arnold Bennett, who said that he has had financial and marital problems and lost his brother and friends in recent years:

Arnold Bennett: My last conversation, I just wanted to see if I could help.
Fox News: When was the last time you talked?
AB: A couple of weeks ago at a gas station.. It took him a few minutes to recognize her [my wife] and he calmed down a bit. He’s struggling…
He’s come from a tremendous family and was a tremendous man in this community. He’s had some really hard luck, both with his marriage and financially and losing his brother and some of our other close friends have gone in the past few years.

FINAL UPDATE: From CNN:

Police took into custody a man they say walked into Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign office in Rochester, New Hampshire, and took several people hostage Friday.

The man, Lee Eisenberg, claimed to have a bomb strapped to his chest, but it turned out to be road flares held with duct tape, police said.

“I am very grateful that this difficult day has ended so well. All of my campaign staff are safe,” Clinton said outside her Washington home. “I want to thank them for their extraordinary courage and coolness under some very difficult pressures and dangerous situations.”

“This has been a very hard day for all of us in our campaign,” said Clinton, who was planning to go to New Hampshire Friday night. “I’m just relieved to have this situation end so peacefully without anyone being injured.”

[…]

The hostage and Eisenberg called CNN multiple times throughout the afternoon and talked to CNN staffers.

Eisenberg said he had mental problems and couldn’t get anyone to help him. CNN assumed Eisenberg could be watching CNN’s broadcast and chose not to report his calls to avoid compromising the safety of the hostages.

Everything turned out okay, and hopefully this man can get the help he needs.

 

 

 

 

Filibustering Our Troops

It’s the GOP’s newest tactic. From The Gavel:

“Earlier this month, Congress approved nearly a half trillion dollars for the Department of Defense. Just two weeks ago, House Democrats passed $50 billion in additional funding for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have provided every penny that is currently necessary to fund Defense Department operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. It is President Bush and his Republican allies in the Senate who are preventing extra funds from reaching our troops.

“The President opposes the House bill because it requires our troops to be fully trained and fully equipped before they are deployed, establishes a goal of December 2008 for the completion of the redeployment of our forces from Iraq, and prohibits torture as an interrogation technique for the U.S. government.

“Rather than explain to the American people why he objects to those provisions, the President and Republican Senators have prevented the Senate from even considering the bill. Today at the Pentagon, the President spoke of the need for Congress to work together to ensure that our troops and their families have the support they need. In that spirit, I call upon the President to instruct Senate Republicans to stop blocking consideration of the House funding bill. It is their obstruction that is producing the uncertainty for our troops and their families that the President voiced concern about today.

[…]

“Our brave men and women in uniform have done everything that has been asked of them in Iraq and Afghanistan. Democrats are committed to providing them everything they need to do their jobs and to care for their families.”

We Democrats are trying to get our soldiers the funding and equipment they need but, once again, President Bush and the Roadblock Republicans stand in the way.

The American people want a timetable for withdrawal. The American people want this war to end. The American people support our troops. In other words, the American people and the Democratic Party are on the same page. Unfortunately, the Roadblock Republicans are doing everything they can to prolong their failed war, putting more American lives in danger for the sake of petty politicking.

It’s sad that this is what it’s come to, it really is. But if the GOP refuses to listen to the people who elected them in the first place, then it’s high time those same people kick them out of office. The GOP’s war has gone on for far too long–if they won’t listen to the American people and end it, we will.

Militia

From McClatchy Washington Bureau, via Atrios:

The American campaign to turn Sunni Muslims against Islamic extremists is growing so quickly that Iraq’s Shiite Muslim leaders fear that it’s out of control and threatens to create a potent armed force that will turn against the government one day.

The United States, which credits much of the drop in violence to the campaign, is enrolling hundreds of people daily in “concerned local citizens” groups. More than 5,000 have been sworn in in the last eight days, for a total of 77,542 as of Tuesday. As many as 10 groups were created in the past week, bringing the total number to 192, according to the American military.

U.S. officials said they were screening new members — who generally are paid $300 a month to patrol their neighborhoods — and were subjecting them to tough security measures. More than 60,000 have had fingerprints and DNA taken and had retinal scans, American officials said, steps that will allow them to be identified later, should they turn against the government. The officials said they planned to cap membership in the groups at 100,000.

But that hasn’t calmed mounting concerns among aides to Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, who charge that some of the groups include “terrorists” who attack Shiite residents in their neighborhoods. Some of the new “concerned citizens” are occupying houses that terrified Shiite families abandoned, they said.

It also hasn’t quieted criticism that the program is trading long-term Iraqi stability for short-term security gains.

[…]

“There is a danger here that we are going to have armed all three sides: the Kurds in the north, the Shiite and now the Sunni militias,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst who’s now at The Brookings Institution, a center-left policy organization in Washington, D.C.

[…]

“When the U.S. leaves, what we’ll have are two armies,” said Sami al Askari, a Shiite lawmaker who speaks to Maliki daily. “One who’s loyal to the government and one not loyal.”

[…]

The new groups are proliferating so quickly that some American officials are taken aback. Maj. Mark Brady, who deals with tribal engagement and reconciliation in Baghdad, lauded the program but described it as “building a plane while flying in it.”

So, let me get this straight. We’re training and arming an extra-governmental militia to fight all the other non-governmental militias in Iraq. Essentially, we aim to end sectarian violence by creating another sect.  What kind of sense does that make? It’s not even fighting fire with fire–it’s fighting fire with gasoline.

We’re at the tail end of the most violent year in Iraq since the war started. We’ve been in Iraq four and a half years. And this is the best we can come up with? A band-aid solution with a high probability of blowing up in our faces? It’s just been one failure after another in Iraq, thanks to the Bush administration and the Republican Party.

Flip-Floppin’ John

Louisiana state Treasurer John Kennedy flips a coin and decides his party affiliation for today–it came up heads, so he’s a Republican.

And now, as Political Wire reports, he wants to move up to the Senate:

Political Wire has learned that Lousiana state Treasurer John Kennedy (R) — who switched his party affiliation to the Republican Party earlier this year — will challenge Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) in 2008. The official announcement will be early next year though he began soliciting campaign contributions for the bid today.

In an email to supporters today, Kennedy released the results of a Zogby poll that shows him leading Landrieu, 45% to 38%.

Flip-Floppin’ John is making himself out to be a bit of an opportunist, jumping onto the sinking ship of the Republican Party just as everyone else is jumping off. I’m not sure why anyone would want to hitch themselves to the party of Iraq, Katrina, George W. Bush and Karl Rove at this point, but I guess Kennedy felt the allure of a cushy job in Washington and jumped at the opportunity.

Kos says it best:

You have to be a special kind of stupid to switch to the Republican Party at a time its fortunes nationwide are crashing and burning.

Giuliani’s Sleaze, Again!

From the Village Voice, via Steve Benen’s Carpetbagger Report:

Contracts awarded to Rudy Giuliani’s private security firm in the Gulf state of Qatar were overseen by a government minister suspected of harboring the al Qaeda terrorist who planned the 9/ll attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, according to security consultants in the region.

New revelations about the extent of the contracts could pose a problem for a presidential contender who says he is the most qualified candidate to combat Islamic terrorism.

Since 2005, Giuliani Partners and its Giuliani Security & Safety (GS&S) unit has provided security consulting and advice in Qatar through contracts overseen by the country’s Interior Ministry, which is currently run by a member of the royal family who has long been accused of supporting al Qaeda, according to security consultants familiar with the area.

The current interior minister, Sheik Abdullah Bin Khalid al-Thani, was suspected of sheltering Mohammed at his farm and tipping him off to the arrival of CIA and FBI teams coming to arrest the al Qaeda strategist back in 1996, according to the National Security Council’s former chief counterterrorism adviser and ABC News consultant Richard A. Clarke, former CIA agent Robert Baer and a 2004 Congressional Research Service report.

It gets worse. Read this line from Steve Benen:

Worse, Giuliani’s client is “also believed to have welcomed Osama bin Laden on two visits to the farm, according to an Oct. 10, 2007 CRS study.”

Yes, that’s right. Rudy Giuliani–“America’s Mayor” and “The Hero of 9/11,” according to the right wing–had business dealings with a supporter of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Osama Bin Laden. Nearly 3,000 New Yorkers and Americans were killed on September 11th, and Giuliani sold all of them out for the sake of cold, hard cash.

To Rudy Giuliani, nothing matters more than greed–apparently not even American lives.

Giuliani’s Sleaze

Rudy’s sleaze, out in the open:

Well before it was publicly known he was seeing her, then-married New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided a police driver and city car for his mistress Judith Nathan, former senior city officials tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.

“She used the PD as her personal taxi service,” said one former city official who worked for Giuliani.

[…]

The former city officials said Giuliani expanded the budget for his security detail at the time. Politico.com reported yesterday that many of the security expenses were initially billed to obscure city agencies, effectively hiding them from oversight.

The former [New York City] officials told ABCNews.com the extra costs involved overtime and per diem costs for officers traveling with Giuliani to secret weekend rendezvous with Nathan in the fashionable Hamptons resort area on Long Island.

When the New York City comptroller began to question the accounting, Mayor Giuliani’s office declined to provide details to city security, officials told ABCNews.com today.

“The Comptroller’s Office made repeated requests for the information in 2001 and 2002 but was informed that due to security concerns the information could not be provided,” a spokesperson for the comptroller’s office said.

[…]

Former officials close to Giuliani say he had “zero” to do with how the police security expenses for Judith Nathan, who he since married, were accounted in the city budget.

[Emphasis added]

So Rudy Giuliani–who the right wing lovingly calls “America’s Mayor”– cheated on his wife with Judith Nathan, who then used the NYPD (which, honestly, had far more important things to do) as her own personal taxi service when rendezvousing with the Mayor. In addition, Giuliani has the people of New York pay for extra security when he travels out to Long Island to sleep with his mistress.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the cost of those extra expenses were then billed to obscure city agencies in order to hide them from the public, who ended up footing the bill for Giuliani’s affair. When the Comptroller’s Office demanded answers, Giuliani’s office refused to respond. Now Rudy’s trying to shrug this off, saying that he shouldn’t shoulder any of the blame since he wasn’t in charge of deciding his security detail.

That’s irrelevant. The problem is that Giuliani was having an affair and sticking New York taxpayers with the bill. I don’t care who in City Hall was in charge of deciding where in the budget to bury the expenses–Giuliani was the Mayor, he was in charge and he was running off to the Hamptons to see his mistress. He was doing something he definitely shouldn’t have been, and the fact that the people’s money went to pay for his personal trysts shows that Giuliani has no compunction against sticking his hand in the public cookie jar when it suits him.

The right wing went apoplectic over Bill Clinton’s affair. How can they stand a man who not only cheats on his wife, but makes them pay for it?

Unbelievable.

The Primaries

Here’s the calendar, courtesy of Political Insider:

 

  • Thursday, January 3: Iowa
  • Saturday, January 5: Wyoming Republicans
  • Tuesday, January 8: New Hampshire
  • Tuesday, January 15: Michigan
  • Saturday, January 19: Nevada; South Carolina Republicans
  • Tuesday, January 29: Florida; South Carolina Democrats
  • Saturday, February 2: Maine Republicans
  • The contest then moves on to the Tuesday, February 5, “national primary”: Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Georgia; Idaho Democrats; Illinois; Minnesota; Missouri; New Jersey; New Mexico Democrats; New York; North Dakota; Oklahoma; Tennessee; Utah; and West Virginia Republicans. Then…

  • Saturday, February 9: Louisiana; Nebraska Democrats; Washington State
  • Sunday, February 10: Maine Democrats
  • Tuesday, February 12: District of Columbia; Maryland; Virginia
  • Tuesday, February 19: Hawaii Democrats; Wisconsin
  • While you have time, make sure that you’re registered to vote, that you request an absentee ballot (if you’re going to be away), and that you know where to go to cast your vote–and, of course, who you’re voting for.

    The first votes will be cast in 36 days in Iowa. Are you ready?