The Washington Times published the audio of the police interrogation immediately following the arrest of Senator Larry Craig in Minneapolis last June. The newspaper does not explain where it got the audio, but the arresting officer and Craig clearly have a difference of opinion about the incident. In fact, the exchange seems rather strange in one part:
Officer: You're not being truthful with me. I'm kind of disappointed in you, Senator. I'm real disappointed right now. Just so you know, just like everybody I treat with dignity, I try to pull them away from the situation --
Craig: I appreciate that.
Officer: -- and [crosstalk] Every person I've had so far has told me the truth. We've been respectful to each other and we've gone on their way. I haven't put anyone in jail because everyone's been truthful to me.
Craig: I don't want you to take me to jail --
Officer: And I'm not going to take you to jail as long as you're going to be cooperative and not lie.
Each man acknowledged that their jobs forced them to deal with people who lie, which is another conversation entirely. But then there's this:
Officer: Okay, so let's start over. You're going to get out of here, you're going to have to pay a fine, and that'll be it.
Officer: I don't call media, I don't do any of that type of crap.
It sounds as if the officer threatened to haul him to jail and alert the media if Craig refused to make a confession on tape. Craig continued to insist that the officer misconstrued his actions, and in fact pointed out that his ring was on the wrong hand for the officer to have seen in as he said, a point made by a few CQ readers. The officer apparently didn't much care for Craig's attitude:
Officer: I would respect you, I don't disrespect you, I still respect you, but that's not the point. I'm being disrespected right now, and I'm not trying to act like I have all kind of power or anything, but you're sitting here lying to a police officer.
Craig: I -- [crosstalk]
Officer: I've been trained to do this. I know what I'm doing .... I just have to say that I'm really disappointed in you, sir. I expect this from the guy that we get out of the hood -- I mean, people vote for you! Unbelievable!
Does this make the story any better or any worse for Craig? He never admitted to the charge during the interview that he had tried to request a sexual favor, which clearly nettled the officer. The officer seems to be threatening Craig with some form of exposure and clearly uses a trial as a lever to get his confession. On the other hand, one has to wonder why he bothered going through this interrogation and then pleading out the charge later.
Do you think that the reference to "the guy in the hood" will get any attention here in Minneapolis? I'm betting it does.
UPDATE: Kathryn Jean Lopez says the audio makes Craig look worse. Scott and John at Power Line aren't so sure.
UPDATE II: I wish I'd seen that ABC had transcribed the entire tape; it would have saved me some time. I thought this part also looked provocative:
Officer: Embarrassing, embarrassing. No wonder why we're going down the tubes.
That shows a bit of animus towards Craig, although Craig certainly earned it by trying to intimidate him with the business card and "What do you think of that?" I'd say it makes a good case for the police officer as the source for the initial news reports, and perhaps the audio as well.
UPDATE III: John Podhoretz thinks it makes Craig look better:
But seriously, folks — a guy taps another guy's foot and reaches his hand under a stall and is arrested for that? And is evidently going to get railroaded out of the Senate for it? If I remember my Joseph Wambaugh vice-squad novels correctly, it used to be the rule that the object of the act of entrapment actually had to make a specific request with words of the entrapee at least. Now you can lose it all for sending messages in semaphore?
The very existence of this sort of coded behavior is vice's tribute to virtue — it has meaning only to those who know its meaning. If someone tapped on my foot in a men's room stall, I would just assume that person...had a wide stance and was a foot jiggler. If, on the other hand, I was in on the code and wanted to respond, I could do so.
What I should not do, in that case, is actually engage in carnal activity in a public place. That is offensive and illegal. The tap-and-hand wouldn't be offensive to anyone who didn't know what they meant — and illegal only in the sense that invading someone else's space should be illegal, which is to say, it shouldn't be.
This gets back to my post from two nights ago, as to why this is a crime at all. The Washington Times reports that this kind of signaling is all that it takes to get arrested in Minneapolis; this was not an isolated incident, nor was it aimed at Craig in any way. That's why Craig is almost secondary in that sense, because many men must have already been caught and shamed into guilty pleas in the same manner and for the same ridiculously vague and inconsequential actions. That's really the story, not a Senator who could easily have mustered the resources to fight the charges.
If they actually do something lewd, then arrest them for that. Flirting isn't a crime, or at least it shouldn't be.