The Rise and Fall of Charles Moose

He was riding the crest of a tidal wave of favorable publicity. He was a much sought after speaker and honored guest at function after function. His name was mentioned as the first black Director of the FBI. A book deal had been signed and Hollywood was considering a movie and his face graced the covers of national magazines. His name is Charles A. Moose and it was the best time of his life. It all stemmed from his command of the task force that finally arrested two suspects in the D.C. area sniper attacks. Now it all has started to crumble. As new information comes to light and glossed over facts are recalled, the question now becomes not 'how many lives were saved by the arrest of the sniper suspects?' but 'how many lives were unnecessarily lost because of Chief Moose?' It now appears the official story on the identification of John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo as the D.C. area snipers and their arrest on October 24, 2002 is nothing but a contrived cover story for what really happened. First, let's review the 'official' story. Pay attention to the dates, they are meaningful in exposing the deception and outright lies to mislead the public. We pick up the story on Thursday, Oct 17, 2002 (after the ninth killing in the D.C. area) when the task force claims it got a phone call from the sniper telling them to check out a murder/robbery at a liquor store in Montgomery. On Friday, the 18th, a Catholic priest at St. Anne's church in Ashland, Virginia received an anonymous phone call from someone claiming to be the sniper directing him to notify the task force that the murder/robbery on Sept. 14th took place in Montgomery, Alabama, not in Maryland. Moose then said the priest called the FBI and that was what set the end game in motion identifying Malvo from a fingerprint left on a gun catalogue at the scene in Montgomery, Alabama. When the priest denied he had called the FBI because he thought the phone call was a hoax, the story was changed. Moose then said the clue to the Ashland priest was gotten from the note left at the shooting on Saturday, the 19th. This was the note that demanded the payment of $10,000,000. It also listed a series of calls the sniper had made to the task force and to the priest. When the note was released to the public, all of the dates of the contacts were redacted. The official story now, as corroborated by the priest, is that an FBI agent interviewed the priest on Sunday October 20 when the Alabama location was first mentioned. An agent traveled to Alabama and returned with the (Malvo) fingerprint, which was then run through the FBI national database. Malvo's print was found in the INS database, which led the FBI to the State of Washington where the connection between Malvo and Mohammad was made through local police records of Malvo's arrest and detention by the INS for his illegal immigration status. The FBI was said to have located an old army buddy of Mohammad's named Robert Holmes who had been visited by Mohammad a month or so before the shooting started. Holmes owned the duplex where he lived and Mohammad and Malvo had stayed for several months. He also confirmed Mohammad had a Bushmaster rifle at that time. The interview was reported, by Moose, to have taken place on Oct 22nd. In the span of about a day and a half, beginning on Thursday, October 22nd, the FBI found where Mohammad had bought the 1990 Chevrolet Caprice, where he had lived temporarily in Tacoma, Washington and that he had illegally possessed a Bushmaster rifle in early 2001. On Wed. Oct 23rd we were treated on national TV to FBI agents searching a back yard and sawing down a tree stump (said to have been used for target practice by Mohammad) for shipment to the ATF lab in Maryland. Moose would later claim that Mohammad and Malvo became 'potential suspects of interest' at the 4pm briefing on Oct. 23rd and investigators began the process of obtaining warrants. Information on the two was released to the news media and the two were arrested in the early morning hours of Oct. 24th while sleeping in the Caprice at a rest stop, based on a phone tip from a truck driver. That's the official story. Now, as newscaster Paul Harvey says, here is the rest of the story. We would probably be stuck with most of the official story had not leaks come from the task force and particularly from the Montgomery Police Department. Moose had managed to break the 'code of silence' said to exist among police officers when he 'double-crossed' the patrol officers and their union leaders in contract negotiations after the arrests. The union claimed that Moose had the information on Mohammad and Malvo earlier than acknowledged which he withheld thus endangering the safety of police officers on the case. It tried to include a clause in the new contract requiring such information be furnished as soon as available. A watered down provision was ultimately included. Moose further antagonized his police when, according to union president Walt Bader he opposed raises for the rank and file while himself getting a huge raise to over $160,000 per year making him the highest paid chief in the area. The rank and file got a 2% raise. An ATF agent member of the task force revealed that Moose had ordered that officers who checked cars following each shooting were to wave cars by if the drivers were minorities or females and to search only cars with white male drivers behind the wheel. This despite several eyewitness accounts (never made public) of suspects in a dark sedan who were either black or Hispanic in appearance. Moose 'tossed' those reports implying they were bad witnesses. One Montgomery officer (who understandably wishes to remain nameless) says he knows that Moose personally was aware of the descriptions of Muhammad and Malvo as early as Oct. 21st the day before the last victim was killed. It was also disclosed that Moose secretly dispatched a team of undercover agents to stake out Muhammad's ex-wife's house two days before he was captured, according to journalist Paul Sperry. That would have been on Oct. 22nd, the day of the last killing and one day before Moose claims the two became suspects. The stakeout team was sworn to secrecy. In the late evening of Oct. 23rd (about 6:30PM) Moose authorized the information on the two to be posted on bulletin boards at the various police stations. However he ordered no radio traffic to keep the media from finding out. Nevertheless a reporter somehow got the information and it was made public on radio and TV, resulting in the tip that culminated in the arrests. The stakeout of Mildred Williams/Muhammad's house raises some troubling questions. Mildred's name was still Williams when she divorced Muhammad. It wasn't until after the divorce she petitioned to have her name changed to Muhammad. When she moved to the Washington, D.C. area, her first job was at the Department of Justice. We do not know in what capacity. Why would Moose expect Muhammad to show up at Mildred's house? Had she been in contact with Muhammad during the shooting spree and invited him to the house, possibly to visit the children? In view of the secrecy of the stakeout, even within the task force, was Muhammad not expected to survive his arrest? Even later Moose was adamant about keeping any information from the media. Was it just a coincidence that the publicized spate of shootings began in Moose's jurisdiction? Moose and Muhammad had served in the Oregon National Guard at the same time but in different units in Portland. Moose claims they never met. Can we take that at face value, now that we have proof Moose lied about several important aspects of the case? Why, after shooting deaths by the same rifle were confirmed in other states didn't the FBI take over as the lead agency? By leaving Moose in charge, police were led on a wild goose chase looking for a white man driving a white van or truck. Members of the task force, presumably including the FBI, knew there were credible eyewitness reports to the contrary. Moose's timeline about what he and the FBI knew and when they knew it is contradicted by subsequent information. Robert Holmes, Muhammad's ex-army buddy became convinced that Muhammad was the sniper after FBI employee Linda Franklin was killed on Tues. Oct. 14th. The next day (Oct. 15th) he called the Tacoma office of the FBI saying he knew the identity of the sniper and asked to talk to an agent. He was told an agent would call him back shortly. He waited several hours with no response and then called the task force hot line in Maryland. He was told to wait for a contact from an agent in Washington State. One or two days later (on Oct. 16th or 17th) an agent did call Holmes. Holmes gave him all the information that Moose claims was not obtained until an in person interview on Oct. 22nd. At that personal interview, Holmes was shown a video from a security camera from an undisclosed location from which he identified Muhammad. By that time, Moose had already provided his secret undercover team with pictures of both Muhammad and Malvo. In the affidavit that supported the arrest warrant for Muhammad, furnished by an ATF agent, an apparent attempt was made to obscure the time line. The affidavit stated some of the information in it came from an FBI interview of Holmes 'on or about October 21st'. That Muhammad had some kind of connection with the FBI or one of the government's other intelligence agencies is almost indisputable as evidenced by his 'teflon' rap sheet in the FBI's national database. Muhammad's license number was entered into that database eleven times during the span of the shootings with no information on any arrests or convictions showing. Information missing from that database includes the following. Muhammad was arrested three times for possession of false I.D., once in Antigua (where he was allowed to walk away from the police station after being held for two days). He was caught twice in Florida with false I.D. and trying to smuggle aliens into the country. He was not held. In the State of Washington he had a conviction for driving on a suspended license. There was also a warrant for his arrest for failure to appear on a shoplifting charge. Also in Washington his ex-wife had obtained a person protection order (PPO) from the court, which made it illegal for him to possess a firearm and was the basis for the arrest warrant issued on October 23rd. In addition, Muhammad (then Williams) was courts martialed twice when in the Louisiana National guard. Once for disobeying three direct orders to report for duty and the second for striking a non-commissioned officer. On the first offense he was fined $100 and reduced in rank to a specialist. He got a suspended sentence for hitting his sergeant. Strangest of all was an incident in the 1991 Gulf war when Williams/Muhammad was accused of rolling a hand grenade into a tent where a number of his fellow soldiers were. He was led away in handcuffs but nothing further was heard and it apparently does not show on his service record. Could this have been the opportunity for the CIA or other intelligence agency to recruit Muhammad as an informer as an alternative to serving twenty or so years at Fort Leavenworth? The convergence of the paths of Moose and Muhammad in Montgomery County, Maryland becomes more problematic when Moose's background in Portland is examined. For the first 15 or so years of Moose's career in the Portland, Oregon Police Department starting as a beat cop, he was known for his hyper-sensitivity about his black race and for a touch of misogyny. However his fortunes climbed upward after he divorced his black wife and acquired a Caucasian one with political connections. He enrolled at Portland State University (PSU) and in near record time acquired Masters and PhD degrees in Urban Studies. This at a time when those with the right political connections and/or financial wherewithal easily were awarded PhD's while some well-qualified candidates struggled for years for the certificates. The Government of Turkey had bestowed a controversial multi-million dollar grant to the university for its Urban Affairs Department. Floods of Turkish PhD candidates then were processed through what almost appeared to be a diploma mill. This was also a time when PSU was rife with activity by radical Islamic students and faculty. One of the instructors in Moose's PhD program was a self-proclaimed (former) Islamic terrorist from Egypt. The Israeli government had started denying student requests to study at PSU fearing for their safety. Shortly after obtaining his PhD, Moose was appointed Chief of Police by Portland Mayor Vera Katz. Both Moose and Katz generated some notoriety during Moose's tenure and after he left. Moose mounted an aggressive program to eliminate racial profiling in the Portland police department. His efforts received national publicity when Attorney General Janet Reno traveled to Portland to give Moose and his efforts recognition. Reno also recommended Moose to Montgomery County, Maryland when the chief position became vacant as the county was fighting a lawsuit by the NAACP over racial profiling by Montgomery police. During the same time frame, Moose was involved in at least four confrontations with private citizens over racial matters for which he was later forced to apologize. He also was required to undergo counseling for anger management. This is particularly ironic since the now famous chief and his wife Sandy have established a consulting service specializing in crisis management and conflict resolution. Katz was one of only three mayors nationwide who refused to allow the police dept. to cooperate with the FBI after the 9/11 attacks in questioning resident aliens from Middle Eastern countries. She again made the headlines when an Islamic American who had been an intern in her office was arrested for trying to join the Taliban to fight American forces in Afghanistan. According to an AP dispatch by Gillian Flaccus published in Washington State's 'the Olympian' newspaper the intern, Patrice Lumumba Ford, had sent messages to several members of Katz's staff that concerned them enough to notify the FBI a month before the Sept. 11 attacks. Katz said the FBI asked city officials not to comment further on the messages. Moose spent 23 years on the Portland Police Force from 1975 through 1998, the last five years as chief. From 1987 to 1998 Moose also served in the Oregon Air National Guard. The arrested sniper suspect, John Allen Muhammad also served in the Oregon Army National Guard at the same Portland base during 1994 and 1995 although in a different unit. Moose says as far as he knows their paths never crossed. When Moose took the Chief's job at Montgomery County in 1999 he also joined the D.C. Air National Guard with the rank of major. By May of 2000 he had become commander of the D.C. Air National Guard's security forces squadron at Andrews Air Force Base. The 60 service members in the squadron are responsible protecting the F-16 fighter aircraft of the Guard's 113th Wing at Andrews as well as maintaining equipment and runways. Moose and the squadron worked many hours after the 9/11 attacks supporting the F-16's that have patrolled the skies over Washington, D.C. since the Pentagon was hit. Inexplicably, no fighters were scrambled from Andrews on Sept. 11 until after the Pentagon was hit more than an hour after it was known four planes had been hijacked and both towers of the WTC had been hit. Supposedly there are F-16's ready to scramble at all times. Someone should ask Major Moose if he has heard an acceptable explanation for the inaction at Andrews. Moose's personal character has taken a beating in the controversy over large fees he would be receiving from a book deal and a movie about the sniper campaign. The Montgomery County Ethics Commission has ruled that accepting those fees would be a violation of the county's ethics rules. Moose has countered by hiring a high priced law firm to handle an appeal of the ruling. He has even hinted he might resign as chief rather than give up the money. Moose has a lot of questions to answer about what (on the face of it) appears to be deliberate obstruction of justice. Unfortunately (or fortunately for him) he may not be available for questioning. The Air Force has ordered him to active duty and (at this writing) he is at Andrews Air Force Base awaiting an unknown assignment.

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Jim Rarey's picture
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Jim Rarey is a freelance writer based in Romulus, Michigan. He is a former newspaper editor and investigative reporter, a retired customs administrator and accountant, and a student of history and the U.S. Constitution.