How Law Enforcement and Media Covered Up the Plan to Burn Christopher Dorner Alive
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“Per [San Bernardino Country Sheriff’s Department] request,” tweeted the local CBS affiliate, KCBS, “we are complying and will not tweet updates on #Dorner search.”
At the time that I am writing this, some online media outlets are beginning to entertain the possibility that San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deliberately set the fire that killed Dorner – a fact that I reported on Twitter as soon the sheriff’s department order came down. If there is any doubt about the authenticity of the YouTube clip containing audio of the sheriff deputies’ orders to burn the cabin down, I can verify that it is the real thing. I was listening to the same transmissions when they first blared across the police scanners.
In the hours after the standoff, however, the police cover-up remained unchallenged thanks largely to local media complicity. An initial Los Angeles Times report recounted the incident in a passive voice, claiming “flames began to spread through the structure, and gunshots, probably set off by the fire, were heard.” Similarly, LA’s ABC affiliate, KABC, quoted Bachman’s vague comment about “that cabin that caught fire,” failing to explore why it was aflame or who torched it.
Today, the Los Angeles Times reported claims by anonymous “law enforcement sources” that the sheriffs used “incendiary tear gas” to flush Dorner out of the cabin. The sources claimed the deputies who had besieged the cabin were under a “constant barrage of gunfire” and that, “There weren’t a lot of options.”
This is almost certainly a lie. The only mention by a deputy at the scene of a gunshot from inside the cabin was the “single shot” that occurred as soon as the “burners,” or incendiary teargas munitions, were deployed. After that point, deputies made constant mention of ammunition exploding inside the cabin as a result of the intense heat of the fire they set, but said nothing about any shots fired at them.
If there were a “constant barrage of gunfire,” it would have been the main source of concern among the police at the scene. Instead, they were preoccupied with ensuring that the fire burned the cabin completely without spreading into the surrounding woods.
There is a grand tradition of law enforcement using incendiary devices to assault besieged suspects, and of covering up their use. One of the most famous examples of this tactic, and its horrible consequences, was the Philadelphia Police Department’s bombing of the compound of the radical black nationalist cult, M.O.V.E., dropping C-4 explosives by helicopter on the house, killing 11 members of the group, including 5 children, and destroying 65 homes in the West Philadelphia neighborhood.
It was not until the 51-day FBI siege of the Waco, Texas compound of the messianic Branch Davidian cult that “burners,” or incendiary 40mm military grade cartridges, were used to burn a structure down. Six years after claiming that the Branch Davidians deliberately burned their own compound down, the FBI finally admitted that it used incendiary rounds, but insisted that none of them contributed to the fire that consumed the compound.
The “burners,” or pyrotechnic rounds the San Bernardino County Sheriffs used to torch Dorner’s cabin, are likely similar, and perhaps more powerful, than those employed by the FBI in Waco. Through the five-year-old “Department of Defense Excess Property Program,” the US military has provided police departments across the country with billions of dollars worth of military equipment, from amphibious tanks to AR-15 assault rifles, allowing the military to circumvent Posse Comitatus regulations by outsourcing their firepower to local cops.
“Burners,” or military grade incendiary grenades, are very likely among the items passed down from the US army to local police outfits like the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department.The “burner” of choice for the modern American soldier is the AN-M14 TH3. It is a hand held grenade comprised of a thermite mixture that rapidly converts to molten iron when it is thrown, burning at a temperature of 4000 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to burn through a half inch steel plate or bring an engine block to a boil. It can also produce enough heat to set off unloaded ammunition, which would explain why the ammo inside Dorner’s hideout was popping.