“Stupid is as stupid does”: The administration in action

Washington, DC – twelve hours before a massive, extensively-planned drug raid was to take place, the D.C. Department of Public and Assisted Housing issued a press release praising its role in the raid. Officials thus had to call off the operation, rendering practically useless eight months’ planning, co-ordination among four law-enforcement agencies, and a large number of arrest and search warrants obtained by thousands of hours of investigation, surveillance, and undercover drug buys. (Washington Post, 23-3-95]

A jury in Pensacola, Florida, awarded nearly $600,000 to Pedro Duran, 56, in his lawsuit against the CSX company. Duran lost his left arm and suffered a broken back and leg when a CSX train hit him as he lay on the tracks, passed out from a round of drinking. According to trial testimony, an engineer spotted what he thought was a lump of trash on the tracks and sounded the whistle as a precaution for 54 seconds before the collision. However, the “lump of trash” — Duran — didn’t move. (Orlando Sentinel-AP, 1-5-95]

The Army issued the Bronze Star for “meritorious achievement” to seven soldiers of the 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment firing (mistakenly) on stranded U.S. troops during the Persian Gulf war. The Army had originally awarded three of the men medals “with valour,” but revoked that distinction after criticism by the General Accounting Office. The medal-winning soldiers killed one American and wounded another before realising their mistake. (St. Petersburg Times-Washington Post, 5-5-95; Greensboro News & Record-AP, 16-4-95]

Judge Philip Mangones in Keene, New Hampshire, declared unconstitutional a drug-producing search of the dormitory rooms of two Keene State College students. The students consented to the search, and more than six ounces of marijuana was found, but the judge said that the men were too stoned to know what they were doing when they consented. [Exeter News-Letter, 3-3-96)

[A tip of the hat to Chuck Shepherd and News of the Weird, for many of these stories — see the editorial for details on how to order it]