Spiky pulls his punches on how Mike Huckabee's son killed that dog
Yesterday, we asked the question:
(To be fair, there was a second Scout involved in the killing with Huckabee; we'll get to that below.) And, based on the contemporaneous accounts, we gave what we thought was the best answer.
Today, Newsweek's Michael "Spiky" Isikoff tackles the Huckabee dog-killing story. Using the enormous reportorial resources of the Washington Post operation, he adds some interesting data points, but he circles round the real question which is, again:
How, exactly, did Mike Huckabee's son David kill that dog?
With that, let's look at how Spiky moved the story forward, starting with the fact that Huckabee seems to be running Arkansas like a personal fiefdom for the benefit of his family members* instead of like, you know, an actual state of the Union governed by the rule of law:
A Son’s Past Deeds Come Back To Bite Huckabee
[The killing] also prompted the local prosecuting attorney— bombarded with complaints generated by a national animal-rights group—to write a letter to the Arkansas state police seeking help investigating whether David and another teenager had violated state animal-cruelty laws. The state police never granted the request, and no charges were ever filed. But John Bailey, then the director of Arkansas's state police, tells NEWSWEEK that Governor Huckabee's chief of staff and personal lawyer both leaned on him to write a letter officially denying the local prosecutor's request. Bailey, a career officer who had been appointed chief by Huckabee's Democratic predecessor, said he viewed the lawyer's intervention as improper and terminated the conversation. Seven months later, he was called into Huckabee's office and fired. "I've lost confidence in your ability to do your job," Bailey says Huckabee told him. One reason Huckabee cited was "I couldn't get you to help me with my son when I had that problem," according to Bailey. "Without question, [Huckabee] was making a conscious attempt to keep the state police from investigating his son," says I. C. Smith, the former FBI chief in Little Rock, who worked closely with Bailey and called him a "courageous" and "very solid" professional.
That's the atmosphere down there in Arkansas under the ruling Huckabee dynasty. It's not enough just to stay silent and keep your head down in the face of official wrong-doing. No, no, you've got to endorse the wrong-doing. You've got to write a letter, go on record endorsing it. Yuck.** So, if Spiky's having a little trouble with sourcing, the atmosphere of intimidation may be part of the problem.***
Spiky also moves the story forward by highlighting the role of the animal activists in pressuring the local prosecutor (who is, interestingly, not named in the story) to bring cruelty to animals charges--the dog's throat was**** slit, it was hanged, and stoned to death--as they "regularly" did. (Presumably, the activists read a copy of the fax that Kinky Freidman's Utopia Animal Rescue posted.)
Kudos to Spiky as well, for moving the story forward by finding one of the animal rights activists. The Animal Legal Defense Fund got the fax, and subsequently:
A local animal-rights activist, Joyce Hillard, later contacted the camp director. Notes of Hillard's report to the defense fund read, "Boys confessed & were fired. Dir. is making excuses, saying dog was sic & boys were putting him out of his misery."
So, here's are some questions that somebody with the vast reportorial resources of the Washington Post might be asking:
1. Who was the unnamed local prosecutor who was "bombarded" with complaints? (The Utopia fax gives the name Tim Williamson.) Were the calls logged, and if so, how many calls did he get? Was any investigation done? Was a file on the case opened? Were any records kept?
2. Who blew the whistle on David Huckabee and sent the original fax? (The posting says the information comes from "friends in Portland, Oregon." Where did they get it from? The Animal Legal Defense Fund? Unlikely.)
3. The Utopia posting also asks activists to call Scouting's Chief Executive Jere Ratcliffe and to demand an internal investigation. Were any such calls made, and was an internal investigation performed? If so, what were the results?
4. Who were the other boys in the troop? What do they have to say?
So, kudos to Spiky. But the "blue dress" in this story really is the question I keep asking:
How, exactly, did Mike Huckabee's son David kill that dog?
Here, Spiky adds a little detail from the elder Frady, but not much. However, if we run what we know, I think we can (again) come to the best possible answer, given the evidence we have so far. Here's the evidence and what people say:
Everyone agrees that Scout Director Marcal Young fired two Scouts, David Huckabee (18) and Clayton Frady (17) from the Scouts after the dog killing for violating Scout Law by not being "kind."
1. Here's what the director (Marcal Young, not named by Spiky) tells Spiky today:
The director told NEWSWEEK only that a stray dog was "put down"...
And here's was Marcal Young said in 1998:
Young would not release the names of the boys nor explain how the dog, “probably a mixed breed,” was killed..... “They felt it [the dog] was ill and what have you, still our policy is it was inappropriate behavior. He would not say what the boys thought was wrong with the dog, but he said they did not suspect rabies.
2. The Huckabees aren't talking. Clayton Frady's father is, and here's what he told Spiky:
His father told NEWSWEEK that his son did not engage in "intentional torture." "There was a dog that apparently had mange and was absolutely, I guess, emaciated."
And here's what Frady said in 1998:
The elder Frady said his son told him he came upon one or more Scouts who had the dog “hung over a limb and choking” so the younger Frady helped “put it out of its misery.”
So, let's go through the statements in order.
First, the director, Marcal Young statements: Today in 2007, Young is airbrushing the story by using the phrase "put down," implying, though not stating, that the Huckabee and Frady engaged in a mercy killing. That's absurd. For a mercy killing, what you do is shoot the animal or call an animal control officer. That's not what Young said back in 1998, even though, if the killing had been clean, that's exactly what you would have expected him to say. Instead, Young fired their asses for violating Scout law by not being "kind." Well, a mercy killing is kind. That's why they call it a mercy killing, because it's better to kill the animal than let it suffer horribly!
Second, the elder Frady: His statement is notable for what it does not say. In 2007, Frady says that his son did not engage in "intentional torture"--implying, at least, that the dog suffered greatly, and leading to the obvious (though unasked) question: Did anyone else torture the dog with intention? Because Huckabee was the Governor's son, that would make him the leader, if I remember my adolescent boyhood and its Lord of the Flies-like pecking order correctly. And oddly, or not, Frady never says anything about what Huckabee did at all. One can only wonder if Spiky even asked him.
So, what have we got?
1. A troop of Scouts, led by David Huckabee (18) and Clayton Frady (17) come upon a dog hung up on a tree in the woods. (Maybe they hung it on the tree themselves, maybe they didn't; maybe Huckabee and Frady arrived together; maybe Frady arrived when Huckabee was already there; there's no evidence either way.
2. They don't call animal control.
3. They don't get in touch with any of the other 65 staff members in the camp.
4. They don't shoot the dog (at least, nobody has said so).
5. The dog is killed.
6. Huckabee and Frady are fired for not being "kind," so apparently the killing wasn't a mercy killing.
7. There's no suggestion that the troop killed the dog. And if the troop didn't kill the dog, then Huckabee and Frady did, since there's no suggestion that any other Scout staffers did (and surely YOung would have said).
8. So how, exactly, did Huckabee and Frady kill the dog if there were no adults present and they had no gun?
The only way I can see (as I argued previously) is that Huckabee and Frady worked with the tools to hand. That is, they would have used their Scout knives, their Scout ropes and/or belts, and possibly any rocks they found in the woods. Just as, in fact, the Utopia Animal Rescue fax said.
Can anyone break the chain of logic, here? As Sherlock Holmes said: "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."
Isikoff calls the story "murky." Yeah, with Huckabee intimidating the director of the State Police, it would be. More reporting, Spiky! More reporting!
NOTE * The usual name for this mode of governance is, as Digby points out, aristocracy. Funny how that Conservative Movement scam about "family values" boiled down to the values of "the best" families, isn't?
NOTE ** Huckabee is going to fit into the Village fine, just fine. I'm sure the Villagers will be able to work with him, and I don't know what they're all panicked about.
NOTE *** Nevertheless, many people who worked with Huckabee are anxious to tell the story of what happened to them when they did, intimidation or no. I wonder why?
NOTE **** Bud, from Legal, insists that we add the word "allegedly" here. Consider it added throughout this post, and any other post pertaining to the subject under discussion.
NOTE ***** Is anybody else noticing the creepy subtext that the dog deserved killing? It's a "mixed breed," "mangy," "emaciated," and though not rabid, "ill."
UPDATE I've been trying to figure out what Huckabee's next move on this is going to be, assuming that our famously free press doesn't let the story drop. Leaving witness intimidation out of the picture, I can see Huckabee arguing for a mercy killing (but see above for why that won't work); throwing the blame onto Frady (Clayton Frady, assuming it's the same one, though injured in the Texas A&M bonfire, is still alive; or saying that Huckabee and Frady were protecting the troop, because the troop hung the dog on the tree.)
Again, the moral for me is that Huckabee isn't ready for prime time. The Bush organization would already have destroyed the records and suborned all the witnesses, as in the Bush AWOL story. I guess I should be thankful that Huckabee is not in their league.
NOTE Spiky's story gives rise to an additional theory, involving rocks, but not necessarily a knife. I'll try to post on this shortly.