Monday, January 29, 2018


I am working full speed on my memoir, Escaping Madness, and hope to have the first complete draft done by the end of March. I hope to get it published by mid-summer, or the end of the year at the latest. I have already learned one significant lesson. Once you begin plumbing the reaches of your memory you are amazed at how long-forgotten incidents and people surface.

The theme running through my memoir is the way violence—verbal and physical—has punctured many parts of my life.

For those of you reading this who might be thinking at trying your hand at memoir writing, I strongly urge you to do it. And, if you stopping because you cannot remember a lot of the details of your past, don’t forget that a memoir is a form of creative non-fiction. For example, I cannot remember the exact words of my mother yield when she was in one of her mentally ill, alcoholic rages, but I can remember the substance of what she said; I can recreate my feelings and the essence of what she said.

The whole process of writing a memoir can, and for me, is cathartic. (To be continued)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018



While I was researching school shooting cove-ups, the Pentagon’s Inspector General began investigating allegations that U.S. military officers corrupting intelligence assessments to make the campaign against Daesh (ISIL) look more successful than they actually were. Members of the press, including the New York Times, have reported the investigation.

According to the media, the investigation began after a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst provided the Pentagon with evidence showing the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has inflated the success of our policy against Daesh. The false reports were given to U.S. policymakers at all levels, including President Barack Obama.

Government officials familiar with the inquiry told the New York Times that CENTCOM commanders improperly rewrote the conclusions of some reports to provide a more optimistic account of progress in the fight.

A directive by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, that oversees all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, bars “distortion” of analytical assessments by particular agendas or policies.

Similar distortions of enemy happened in Vietnam when military intelligence understated enemy strength and overstated U.S. successes in eliminating the Viet Cong.  (To be continued)

Saturday, January 20, 2018


A number of weeks ago I posted on the corruption of the Virginia Supreme Court and the response was excellent and very gratifying. One respondent suggested I contact Rachel Maddow and perhaps she would bring the issue to light. A week ago I mailed a letter and three attachments to Ms. Maddow. You can read that letter after the next two paragraphs.

With all the controversy swirling around the Trump administration, I doubt if the issue I am raising will meet the threshold for her show, despite the fact that it shows how packing the courts with ultra conservatives can undermine the rights of individual citizens.

Before I first published my case against Justice Cleo Powell and the Virginia Supreme Court, I asked for the opinion of several Virginia lawyers. All said the court had broken the law, but none would allow me to quote them or identify them by name. 

To be associated with the argument below would undoubtedly end their legal careers in Virginia and there is no way anyone of them would be successful in arguing a case before the Virginia Supreme Court. The most interesting response I got was from an ultra-conservative lawyer who agrees with the court decision, but said the Pryde and Peterson families would have gotten a fairer hearing from the Mississippi Supreme Court, because he added, the Mississippi Supreme Court does a better job of protecting the rights of individual citizens against government and private business excesses than the Virginia Supreme Court. I have no way of knowing if he is correct, but if he is, it a very, very telling statement. I am only publishing the letter, not the attachments.

Dear Ms. Maddow:

Re: Virginia Supreme Court Tampering with Evidence

I am a retired CIA intelligence officer and have over 50 years of working with the CIA and FBI in political and crime analysis. I am writing to bring to your attention a case of public corruption and miscarriage of justice involving the Virginia Supreme Court introducing false evidence in the Court’s written decision to overturn a jury verdict in the Pryde and Peterson lawsuit against Virginia Tech University. The two families' daughters, Erin Nicole Peterson and Julia Kathleen Pryde, were gunned down in Norris Hall during Seung-Hui Cho’s rampage on April 16, 2007.

It is against the law to introduce false evidence in a court proceeding, but that is exactly what Virginia Supreme Court Justice Cleo E. Powell did in writing the court’s decision to overturn a jury verdict holding the school accountable. The false evidence involves who was in charge of the investigation on the morning of April 16, 2007 following the double homicide around 7:15 a.m. at West Ambler Johnston Hall. Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum was in charge and remained in charge of the investigation throughout the day. Virginia Supreme Court Justice Cleo E. Powell wrote, in her decision, Blacksburg Police Chief Kim Crannis was in charge. Crannis was not in charge, that is not true.

It is highly unusual for a state Supreme Court, or the United States Supreme Court, for that matter, to overturn any jury verdict. But on October 31, 2013, the Virginia Supreme Court did just that: It overturned a jury verdict in the Pryde and Peterson lawsuit against Virginia Tech holding the school liable for not warning the campus on April 16, 2007, after a double homicide had taken place at West Ambler Johnston Hall.  About two hours after the shooting at Ambler West Johnston Hall, Seung-Hui Cho killed another 30 people and wounded 17 before killing himself.

The Pryde and Peterson families’ lawsuit began on March 5, 2012 and concluded on March 14, 2012. The jury agreed with the plaintiffs and found the university negligent and awarded $4 million to each family.  The judge had to reduce that figure to $100,000, the maximum allowed by Virginia’s sovereign immunity law.

The state appealed and on October 31, 2013, the Virginia Supreme Court (in a unanimous decision) threw the jury verdict out. On January 21, 2014, the Virginia Supreme Court refused to reconsider its decision to dismiss the wrongful death verdict against Virginia Tech.
Justice Cleo E. Powell who wrote the unanimous decision, stated that “under the facts of this case, there was no duty for the Commonwealth to warn students about the potential for criminal acts by third parties.” She then got one of the most critical facts wrong—who was in charge of the investigation that day following the initial shooting at West Ambler Johnston Hall.

Justice Powell wrote that the Blacksburg Police Department was in charge:  “Although officers from the Virginia Tech Police Department were the first on the scene, the Blacksburg Police Department led the investigation.” In fact, Chief Wendell Flinchum of the Virginia Tech Police Department was in charge and led the investigation. If Blacksburg Chief Kimberly Crannis had been in charge, there would have been no duty to warn because she did not have that authority. Chief Flinchum did have the authority to warn and lockdown. Both Chief Flinchum and Chief Crannis testified under oath that Chief Flinchum was in charge of the investigation.

There is a legal agreement between the town of Blacksburg and Virginia Tech stating in any investigation, the police department requesting assistance (Virginia Tech) will remain in charge of the investigation. Nowhere in the almost five volumes of the trial transcript is there any reference to Chief Crannis being in charge of anything. By law, the Virginia Supreme Court may only review the trial transcript in making its decision. Therefore, the reference to Chief Crannis being in charge had to be introduced in violation of the law.

Why is this important? To cite Crannis as the person in charge is not only a falsification of the historical record, but sets a precedent that the introduction of false, incorrect facts central to a court decision is acceptable.  Five times, Chief Crannis and Chief Flinchum testified under oath that it was Chief Flinchum and not Blacksburg’s Chief Crannis who was in charge. I read the nearly five volumes of trial testimony and I cannot find any reference to Chief Crannis being in charge of the investigation. The identity of who was in charge is important because Virginia Tech had in place all the means necessary to warn and lockdown the campus on April 16, 2007. Over two and one half hours elapsed between the double homicide and the mass murder in Norris Hall. So, after almost four years after the Supreme Court ruling, the question persists, why didn’t the university issue a warning?

There are numerous examples of the school warning the campus for a variety of reasons. For example, eight months before the mass murder, the Virginia Tech administration had set a standard for warning the university community.  In the fall of 2006, a prisoner in the Blacksburg jail, William Morva, escaped and killed two people. There was no indication that Morva was on or near the campus, yet Virginia Tech warned and locked the campus down.

But on April 16, 2007, there was a double murder in the middle of the campus. Thirteen bloody foot prints led from the crime scene to an exit stairwell; there were spent bullet shells on the floor but no weapon. The school issued no warning even though it was obvious the killer was on the loose.  Had a lockdown of the campus been implemented, lives would have been saved.  The administrative failure allowed two students in West Ambler Johnston Hall to go to their French class where they were among the first of the 30 students and teachers killed in Norris Hall.

The Virginia Supreme Court is one of the most conservative state supreme courts in the United States and holds to the principle that there are next to no circumstances under which someone can be held liable for another person’s actions. It appears the Virginia Supreme Court will go to any extent, even lying, to uphold that principle.

No matter what the reason for Justice Powell’s introduction of false evidence, the law has been broken and the Pryde and Peterson families have been denied a fair and impartial hearing by the Virginia Supreme Court. The Court is entitled to its opinions, but not its own facts; the Court is not above the law and does not have the right to fabricate evidence to fit a conservative political agenda or philosophy.

My repeated efforts, including contacting Justice Powell and other members of the Supreme Court, have fallen on deaf ears. I am hoping you will expose this miscarriage of justice.

David Cariens


1. David Cariens resumé
2, Chief Flinchum and Chief Cannis’s testimony under oath that Chief Flinchum was in charge of the investigation
3. Virginia Supreme Court Decision reversing the jury verdict, pages 1 and 2

4. The legal agreement between Blacksburg and Virginia Tech on who controls investigations

Thursday, January 18, 2018


In the year I have been working on the first of what I hope to be three memoirs, I have found it to be a challenging, cathartic, and stimulating exercise.  

Not only is a memoir is a wonderful legacy and gift to leave a person’s family, but writing a memoir has helped me come to terms with the violence that has plagued portions of my life—including the murder of the mother of my oldest grandchild. Hopefully, my memoirs will help my descendants learn from my mistakes and prepare for life’s ups and downs.

So many times I have wished my parents and grand parents had left a written record of their lives and their experiences. Indeed, my decision to write my own memoir comes from a request from my youngest son for me to write an autobiography. It was in studying the differences between biographies, autobiographies, and a memoir that I learned a memoir was a better vehicle for me—a memoir, unlike an autobiography, is not the story of a person’s life, it is stories about a person’s life usually based around a theme.

Over the next several weeks, I am going to be posting on memoir writing and will intersperse those posts with my other writings on gun violence. (To be continued)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


My new book will be published in February.

(Sorry I cannot get the whole cover on this post, so the word "memoir" is cut off.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Sixteen years after the murder of Angela Dales at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia, the harsh reality is abundantly clear: the average family has little recourse in Virginia if their child is killed on a school campus. I have learned that politicians in Richmond lack the courage to find the root of the problem and tell the truth about not only gun violence in Virginia in general, but about school shootings specifically.

From mental health care to campus security, Virginia’s elected officials appear to be happy playing Russian roulette with the lives of young people, students, teachers, and professors. Children apparently are worth next to nothing in the eyes of the political leaders in Richmond, even if gross incompetence led to their deaths.

No amount of money can ever replace a child or loved one. Given a choice, you could not give a parent any amount of money for the life of a child. But in Virginia, the state places an insulting price tag on the life of a child--$100,000. Compare that figure to the salaries of school presidents posted on

Virginia Commonwealth University President Michael Rao received a $275,000 signing bonus when he inked his employment contract in October 2012, with $200,000 a year in deferred compensation. That’s on top of a base salary just shy of half a million dollars.

Whenever Christopher Newport University President Paul Tribble leaves his presidential post, he’ll continue making whatever his final base salary is — more than $360,000 — to teach just three courses over the entire academic year as a tenured professor at the Newport News institution.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education's national ranking of executive leadership by compensation, recently retired Virginia Tech President Charles Steger made $836,886 during fiscal year 2013. That salary alone placed him as the 12th highest-paid public college president in the U.S. out of 256 institutions.

Charles Steger was the president of Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007. He and then-Police Chief Wendell Flinchum, failed to warn or lockdown the campus following a double homicide at West Ambler Johnston Hall. As a result the killer, Seung Hui Cho, methodically proceeded with his plans and killed 30 students and faculty in Norris Hall two and a half hours later.

Charles Steger made $836,886 his last year as Virginia Tech president, 28 families got $100,000 for their dead children and spouses. The Pryde and Peterson families, whose daughters were killed got nothing.

Over the past thirteen years one of the most sobering facts I have come to terms with is the extent mendacity permeates the leadership cadre of our society.

When I was writing the book on the Virginia Tech rampage, I finally stopped my research because every time I picked up a rock, something else crawled out from under. I found few leaders of principle and few working for the common good. (To be continued)