Saturday, July 14, 2012

If It Cost $6.5 Million, Is It Really Freeh?

Joe clearly voted for Al Gore!
By now, you have probably read and/or heard about the release of the Freeh Report on Penn State regarding the Sandusky scandal.  Chances are pretty good you heard some misinformation.

I'm a little late in getting this all posted as I was on vacation when the report was leaked released.  That evening, I sat at a table in a restaurant near Virginia Beach with a television above my head that paraded a variety of images as it attempted to "inform" the viewers.  I saw the Penn State logo.  Joe Paterno.  The football team.  I don't recall ever seeing Sandusky.  Wasn't he the guy actually found guilty of a crime???  But I digress.

You can read the Freeh report here.  Interestingly, I couldn't get the download to work on the actual website:  Good luck with that.

There are those, such as fellow blogger The Nittany Turkey, who say that I should just get on with my grief and the Kübler-Ross stages thereof and accept the report, rather than trying to criticize it.  Well, that's not bloody likely gonna happen on this blog.

The problem is not that I have a blind, overwhelming devotion to Joe Paterno.  Although I respected and admired him immensely, I am more a devotee of truth.  And while the general public may accept the Freeh Report as unshakable, undeniable proof . . . I, for one, do not.

First of all, how do you spend $6.5 million on a report?  Seriously.  In an age where the Federal Deficit is measured in trillions, most of us pass over that little piece of information as though it is negligible.  It is expected.  It wouldn't be a good report if it wasn't over priced.

If you hired a thousand workers to process the information (and I doubt they hired that many) that amounts to $6,500 per person.  Another way to look at it:  the report is 267 pages long.  That amounts to $24,344.57 per page, and the actual report didn't start until seven pages of contents.  They supposedly interviewed 430 people--that's $15,116.28 per interview.)

BUT they did not interview Joe Paterno, Tim Curley, Jerry Sandusky, Schultz, outside legal counsel Wendell Courtney, PSU Director of Public Safety Tom Harmon, NCIS star Mark Harmon, and Mike McQueary, among others.

Chief Investigator Freeh
Isn't that like doing a report on the New Testament, but not including anything from Jesus or his disciples?

We interview everyone EXCEPT the actual participants . . . and call it FACT?  Are we as a society really that stupid or gullible???

Do you know that Karen Peetz, Chairman of the Board of Trustees is/was a member of the special investigations task force?  Her name is buried in small print at the bottom of page 8 in footnote a.  Doesn't that present a bias?  Conflict of interest?  If you were investigating Enron (Exxon--name any major corporation that did something wrong) and you put the Chairman of the Board on the investigating committee, wouldn't there be public outcry?

I could go on and on, but Marc Rubin has a fairly good analysis of the faults of the report on Tom In Paine.

Here are a few excerpts:
The great irony of the Freeh Report is that one of its most quoted statements was that there were "red flags all over the place" that should have alerted people to Sandusky and were ignored.
But that applies even more so to the Freeh Report itself except the evidence of the report being incompetetent, dishonest and the product of polititcal hackery is more obvious than any red flags Freeh claims wee apparent with Sandusky. And as expected these red flags are being ignored by the news media who have their own ground to defend, their own myths to perpetuate and then there are those who will swallow almost anything they are told by the media.

As for ?Freeh himself, the Board of Trustees who has botched every possible decison from the beginning couldnt have made a worse decision in choosing Freeh to do the investigation. As pointed out here the other day, Freeh had the reputation in Washington DC of being a political hack. He was excoriated by former Republican governor Tom Kane as Chairman of the 911 Commission who tore Freeh to shreds for his incompetence as FBI director in his handling of terrorist related intelligence prior to 911. And as recently as April of 2012, appearing before a congressional committee, Freeh was battered by the committee investigating the bankruptcy of MF Global for which Freeh and his group were overseeing, for Freeh's refusal to turn over relevant documents to federal regulators.

All indications were that the Freeh Report was going to be the product of a political hack. And the report did not disappoint.

Freeh forgets one important fact: within days of the story breaking back in November, Paterno called a press conference where he was going to tell everything he knew, everything he heard and everything he did regarding the Sandusky incident and was going to take questions from reporters. It was Penn State university officials and the Board of Trustees who forced him to cancel it. So right from the beginning who does the evidence show was trying to shield Penn State from bad publicity? Joe Paterno or the Board of Trustees who paid Freeh $ 6 million for his report?

Freeh claims a 1998 email from Curley to Schultz proves that Paterno knew all about Sandusky . . . To an ethical investigator that email would be a lead NOT proof. Why does Curley refer to Paterno as "Joe" in other emails and "Coach" in this one? How do we know this relates to the Sandusky investigation involving child abuse? Where are the corroborating emails that make this clear when on would think there would be many? Where are Harmon's emails confirming this? And most importantly why does the Freeh report say " the reference to Coach is believed to be Paterno".
One other crucial point: the 1998 investigation which included a psychologist interviewing both Sandusky and the children he showered with and said their accounts were the same found that NO ABUSE had taken place. If one wants to argue that Paterno knew of the investigation then one has to accept he knew about the results of the investigation and those results exonerated Sandusky of any wrong doing. In that case there would be nothing for Paterno to do.

And there is much more in the original article.  Later, in another blog post, he writes:
On July 7, Don Vanatta, a writer for ESPN Magazine, writing on the leaked emails wrote:
'A source who has reveiwed all the early 2001 emails said that the few that have been leaked 'are definitely out of context' "
Vanatta went on to say that his source who has seen all the emails suggested that the one email used by CNN to make insinuations about Paterno was selectively leaked to put everyone in the worst possible light.
John Ziegler echoes many of these problems with the evidence of this report.

I'm sorry, but I simply don't understand how people can look at the whole picture here and not have serious issues.

Why were the emails leaked?  For what purpose?  The Freeh Report states that it evaluated 3.5 million pieces of electronic information but we are going to bludgeon Paterno in his grave over one or two?

Personally, when it was first released, I inferred from the email that Curley--on his own--decided to change the game plan and not report.  Curley was the one uncomfortable.  There was no "we" in that email.  Curley's a bright man.  He may not have been able to schedule a decent football opponent, but he ran a big business at Penn State and if he thought Paterno was trying to coerce things against the others, then he would have said so.  I don't think Joe used email.  Joe would not know what he said in those emails.

Now all this is not to say that there aren't some redeeming things to come of this report.

First of all, child molestation is a horrible, despicable crime.  It is important for Penn State to implement some policies and procedures so that people know what to do when/if something like this occurs.  I personally think that a big part of this whole mess was that no one was adequately prepared to evaluate the situation and make a decision to report or not report.

I continue to maintain that it is far too easy for us in 2012, with the benefit of hindsight, i.e. knowing all the different victim scenarios, to condemn those involved in 2001.  We will never know what Joe actually said to Curley.  We won't ever know what McQueary told them, although we might know what he thinks he recalls telling them and there is an important difference there.  Hopefully, the upcoming trials of Curley and Schultz will clear some of this up, but probably not.

Secondly, if the BOT wants to throw their weight around, then they better get a better handle on things.  There are people that automatically assume that Joe HAD to know everything.  I feel as though there had to be some BOT members, perhaps with Second Mile ties, that HAD to know something was going on.  But it's not clear to me whether their emails were included in all that "evidence."

Mistakes WERE made.  By people.  Perish the thought.  Unfortunately, innocent children suffered at the hands of Sandusky.  I honestly don't think Sandusky would have been stopped in 2001, anymore than he was stopped in 1998.  The only way I see a guaranteed different outcome is if McQueary had brought police into the shower that night.  Without a victim and with only his wishy-washy what-exactly-did-I-tell-Joe/my Dad/Dr. Dranov/Curley testimony, I'm not sure what anyone could have reasonably concluded at that time.  But extrapolating those mistakes to prove a cover-up to protect Penn State is like trying to decipher the intent of the voter from an ambiguous ballot.

Finally, let's pray that something like this never happens again.

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