Eric Holder should get credit for at least taking some baby steps to limit asset forfeiture abuse (steps it does not appear his nominated successor is going to be very enthusiastic about). But there is a long way to go, as evidenced by this horror story of CalFire, the US Forest Service and the Holder Justice Department using everything every dirty trick I have ever heard of to extort money from a private company.
Archive for the ‘Police and Prosecutorial Abuse’ Category.
I had forgotten about this story and am surprised the media did not make this connection more often during the Michael Brown brouhaha:
Michael Daly at The Daily Beast has the flabbergasting story of Henry Davis, who was picked up by cops “for an outstanding warrant that proved to actually be for another man of the same surname, but a different middle name and Social Security number,” then beaten by several officers at the station. What happened next was truly surreal: while denying that Davis had been seriously hurt at all, though a CAT scan found he had suffered a concussion and a contemporaneous photo shows him bleeding heavily, four police officers sought to have him charged for property damage for getting blood on their uniforms. ...
The kicker: the police department was that of Ferguson, Missouri.
Scottsdale Police Union Charity: Less than 5 Cents of Each Donated Dollar Actually Getting Used For Charity
These guys hassle me constantly for money and I generally duck them. Which is good, because if I had actually given money, I would be pissed:
The Scottsdale police union known as POSA -- the Police Officers of Scottsdale Association -- stages several events every year to help bring police and the community closer together. Over the next two weeks, 500 Scottsdale children will go holiday shopping with $150 in their pockets in the annual Shop with a Cop event.
But a closer look at POSA's federal tax filings shows just pennies of every dollar you donate reaches the community.
The union's most recent federal tax filings, for 2012, show about a million dollars in donations. For every dollar donated, professional fundraising services kept 81 cents -- about $814,000, records show.
A little more than 6 cents of every dollar went toward the $62,000-a-year salary of POSA director Cindy Hill. Hill is also the wife of union leader Jim Hill.
Less than a nickel of every dollar -- about $45,000 -- was spent on events like Shop with a Cop.
To be fair, this is probably about the same percentage of union dues that gets spent for their stated purpose, so these guys probably don't see anything amiss.
It's as simple as this: Republicans fetishize the police (like they do the military) and will always give them the benefit of the doubt. They have this gauzy teary-eyed love of the police. Just watch Megyn Kelly on Fox to get the idea. Democrats are allied with public unions and will not under any circumstances take on the powerful police unions who fight any attempt at accountability tooth and nail, a behavior Democrats have become habituated to enabling for other unions like the teachers unions.
The issue is mostly about giving police accountability that matches the special powers over the use of force we give them. But it is also about racism. It just burns me up to have folks in power point to the business world constantly for supposed institutional racism, when in fact I witness very little if any day to day. The one institution I see that clearly has elements of institutional racism are many police forces, but no one will touch them.
Every year there are hundreds of police shootings and the number that are determined not to be justifiable rounds to zero. What are the odds there is a process involving humans with this small of a Type I error rate? We are learning form cell phone cameras that the stories we used to believe from police officers about events are often total bullsh*t. And yet still police are not held accountable even when there is horrific video evidence showing them out of control.
At the drop of a hat, at the smallest hint of a single example of a bad outcome, the government will not hesitate to impose enormous new restrictions on private individuals. But even with the most overwhelming evidence the government will not put even the lightest restrictions in itself or its employees.
I have always shied away from my fellow libertarians on the anarcho-capitalist end of things who wanted to privatize the police force. I always thought use of force to be a unique privilege and one dangerous to hand out to private groups. But I am starting to see that I was thinking about it wrong. It is a dangerous power to give to anyone, but at least if you give it to a private party someone might possibly exercise a little accountability over them.
Walter Olson has a good roundup of police and lethal force here.
Postscript: Here is an example of what I mean: The Obama Administration has imposed significant rules on universities to bring greater accountability to sexual assailants when it was perceived that the universities did not impose enough accountability on such predators. I think the Administration has gone overboard in stripping away the accused due process protections and handing justice to people who will not manage the process well, but its the seriousness of this effort I want to point out. While I don't think the Administration's actions were appropriate to colleges, they would represent an entirely appropriate response to police violence. Someone needs to step in and enforce some accountability.
Watching too many TV crime shows will blind you to a stark reality: Witness testimony sucks. Look at the linked comparison of witness testimony in the Michael Brown shooting grand jury. Take any column, like the last one with number of shots fired. Its a total mess!
When videos emerge of police brutality, police defenders often say that video can lie. But I would argue that it is a hell of a lot better witness than the average person. My guess is that police like this kind of variation in witness testimony, because they know that in most, perhaps all, cases, they will be given the benefit of the doubt when the testimony conflicts.
Governments can't be trusted to administer life and death. Simple as that. Check out these guys. They had much of their life taken from them -- but not all.
I have become pretty immune to letting BS government pleas for more power get to me, but this almost made me barf.
The No. 2 official at the Justice Department delivered a blunt message last month to Apple Inc. executives: New encryption technology that renders locked iPhones impervious to law enforcement would lead to tragedy. A child would die, he said, because police wouldn’t be able to scour a suspect’s phone, according to people who attended the meeting.
Children will die, do you hear? CHILDREN WILL DIE!!!!
It is far more likely, based on recent history, that police will want to access your phone out of a prurient desire to see your naughty pictures than it will be to save some dying child ala in Dirty Harry. Jeez you can make the same argument that if police could just randomly charge into any house they wanted for any reason, at some point they would probably save someone.
For that reason, the law is only worth the paper it’s written on if some of the critics’ fears come true. Critics worry that colleges will fill with cases in which campus boards convict young men (and, occasionally, young women) of sexual assault for genuinely ambiguous situations. Sadly, that’s necessary for the law’s success. It’s those cases—particularly the ones that feel genuinely unclear and maybe even unfair, the ones that become lore in frats and cautionary tales that fathers e-mail to their sons—that will convince men that they better Be Pretty Damn Sure.
Good God, I have had many differences with liberals on a variety of issues but I have always made common cause with them on civil rights and criminal justice issues. I can't believe he wrote this. What is the difference from what Klein writes and and having a 1960's southern sheriff argue that it is OK to hang a few black men because it has the benefit of making the rest of the African-American population more docile? Last week I asked:
It is the exact same kind of rules of criminal procedure that Dirty Harry and Paul Kersey would have applauded. Unacknowledged is the inevitable growth of Type I errors (punishing the innocent) that are sure to result. Do the proponents not understand this tradeoff? Or, just like the archetypal southern sheriff believed vis a vis blacks, do women's groups assume that the convicted male "must be guilty of something".
I guess we have our answer.
[Cars owned by African-Americans in Ferguson] are stopped at about a 6x higher rate for "equipment" deficiencies than whites. Nitpicky regulations on car conditions (in Arizona your licence plate frame cannot cover any part of the word "Arizona" on the licence plate) are the great bugaboo of the poor and a nearly unlimited warrant for the police to stop minorities. Mexicans here in Phoenix will tell me "woe to the Mexican who drives around here with a broken tail light -- he will be pulled over 3 times a day to have his immigration status checked". In Phoenix, at least, stops for equipment issues are roughly the equivalent of pulling someone over for "driving while brown." Even beyond the open-ended warrant these silly violations give the police, the fines and court costs create meaningful indebtedness problems for the poor which are hard to overcome.
Ferguson is a city located in northern St. Louis County with 21,203 residents living in 8,192 households. The majority (67%) of
residents are African-American…22% of residents live below the poverty level.
…Despite Ferguson’s relative poverty, fines and court fees comprise the second largest source of revenue for the city, a total of $2,635,400. In 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court disposed of 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.
You don’t get $321 in fines and fees and 3 warrants per household from an about-average crime rate. You get numbers like this from bullshit arrests for jaywalking and constant “low level harassment involving traffic stops, court appearances, high fines, and the threat of jail for failure to pay.”
If you have money, for example, you can easily get a speeding ticket converted to a non-moving violation. But if you don’t have money it’s often the start of a downward spiral that is hard to pull out of
I can testify to that last point. I worked in the Emerson Electric headquarters for a couple of years, which ironically is located in one corner of Ferguson. One of the unwritten bennies of working there was the in house legal staff. It was important to make a friend there early. In Missouri they had some bizarre law where one could convert a moving violation to a non-moving violation. A fee still has to be paid, but you avoid points on your license that raises insurance costs (and life insurance costs, I found out recently). All of us were constantly hitting up the in-house legal staff to do this magic for us. I am pretty sure most of the residents of Ferguson do not have this same opportunity.
Presidents get into helicopters at the drop of a hat to tour disaster areas if such a trip can get them 2 minutes of empathy-demonstration on the nightly news broadcast. Their presence is generally a hindrance to progress as first-responders have to drop everything to plan for the visit.
For once, in St. Louis, a Presidential visit might actually do some good and Obama sits in Martha's Vineyard. I never thought of him this way, but for much of the African-American community, Obama represents a unique, special, almost mythical figure in whom a lot of hopes and dreams were invested. An Obama visit urging peace combined with a promise from him that a fair and complete investigation would be undertaken would, IMO, bring the rioting to a halt. If I were he I would go out there as the true friend of the African-American community that many perceive him to be and say, "the national has heard you and shares your frustration. Change can happen. But further violence in the streets is only going to undermine your position and give the advocates of militarized policing further, ah, ammunition. It is reasonable for a President to defer to local and state authorities -- in fact it would be disastrous for the President to make a habit of sticking his nose in local criminal cases -- but he may be the only person with the credibility with local residents to make this end.
Since I last posted on this, there have been two new pieces of information. One, Michael Brown apparently committed petty theft a few minutes before he was picked up, though the officers that picked him up did not know this. And two, an autopsy reports that the unarmed Brown was shot at least 6 times. It is hard to imagine any story that adequately explains shooting an unarmed man** who was not known to have committed a crime 6 freaking times. And since the police have still not released any narrative of what happened from their point of view (they are still working with Michael Bay's screenwriters to see if they can come up with something), all we can do is imagine.
**Update 8/18: I am willing to believe I am being unfair here. I am simply exhausted by the lack of accountability and the pass we give to officers involved in shootings. However, just because many such shootings are unjustified and subject to cover-ups does not by any means they all are. The question from all of this is how do we start holding the police accountable without having to have riots.
The Washington Post has numbers on the much higher rate at which blacks are stopped and/or searched in Ferguson vs. whites. By itself, while that is a useful pointer to a discrimination issue, someone might argue that blacks in the area commit more crimes per capita and thus warrant more stops.
There is one bit of data in the Post's numbers that can be used to partially address this. The data says that blacks have their cars searched much more frequently than whites. Blacks have their cars searched 12.13% of stops while whites have their cars searched only 6.85% of stops. But this understates the disparity, since blacks are stopped at a higher rates than whites. Taking the disparity in stops in to account, blacks are searched at a rate 6 times higher than for whites.
The interesting part is in the data on contraband hit rate, ie the rate that searches uncover something illicit. The contraband hit rate for white car searches is 57% higher than for black car searches. In other words, it is more likely searches of white cars will yield something illegal. Which tends to undercut the argument that the greater rate of black car searches is somehow justified.
By the way, I want to highlight one other figure. Black cars are stopped at about a 6x higher rate for "equipment" deficiencies than whites. Nitpicky regulations on car conditions (in Arizona your licence plate frame cannot cover any part of the word "Arizona" on the licence plate) are the great bugaboo of the poor and a nearly unlimited warrant for the police to stop minorities. Mexicans here in Phoenix will tell me "woe to the Mexican who drives around here with a broken tail light -- he will be pulled over 3 times a day to have his immigration status checked". In Phoenix, at least, stops for equipment issues are roughly the equivalent of pulling someone over for "driving while brown." Even beyond the open-ended warrant these silly violations give the police, the fines and court costs create meaningful indebtedness problems for the poor which are hard to overcome.
(As a mostly irrelevant aside, I worked essentially in one corner of Ferguson in the Emerson Electric headquarters for a couple of years. Like many of the inner ring of suburbs in St Louis, this is not a wildly prosperous area but it also is not Somalia. Driving at night I was much more nervous in the neighborhoods both due south and due East of Ferguson).
Update: Via Zero Hedge
I read this today in our local paper. It is written by a local police sergeant and is entitled "Safety tips: How to talk to an officer if you're pulled over"
First, be polite. No good will come of the situation if you are immediately argumentative or uncooperative. Tell your passengers to do the same. You may not agree with the reason for the stop or the outcome, but the side of the road is not the place to debate this. If issued a ticket, you will have your time in court to present your case to a judge or hearing officer....
Do not address the officer with any slang terms or comments. Treat the officer as you would like to be treated, with respect.
Being polite is a nice thing to do. But no one would write a "safety tip" article about being polite to your Starbuck's server. Everyone knows the above guidelines are good safety tips (though Chris Rock said it better), but no one mentions the real elephant in the room: That if you are not polite or not obeisant or somehow "disrespect" an officer, he may well arrest you on a trumped up charge or even physically abuse you. The stories of this are ubiquitous, and everyone has heard them. Essentially, the officer writing this is saying to the rest of us that "beware, some police officers are thin-skinned, short-tempered jerks and will abuse you if you do not kowtow to them like some Mandarin emperor."
I guess there is something to be said for the truth in advertising here. Next week I suppose the DMV will write an article on getting a drivers license that emphasizes bringing a book because their process is so slow and horrible that you are likely to be there all day.
Ken White at Popehat offers some useful insight to non-lawyers among us about compelled testimony (in the context of the Louis Lerner/IRS saga)
Some people have argued that Lois Lerner should be compelled to testify, either by court order or by grant of immunity. Lerner and her lawyers would love that, as it would make prosecuting her for any suspected wrongdoing incredibly difficult.
Compelled testimony is radioactive. If a witness is compelled to testify, in any subsequent proceeding against them the government has a heavy burden to prove that no part of the prosecution is derived from the compelled testimony, which is treated as immunized. This is called theKastigar doctrine:
"Once a defendant demonstrates that he has testified, under a state grant of immunity, to matters related to the federal prosecution, the federal authorities have the burden of showing that their evidence is not tainted by establishing that they had an independent, legitimate source for the disputed evidence." 378 U.S. at 378 U. S. 79 n. 18. This burden of proof, which we reaffirm as appropriate, is not limited to a negation of taint; rather, it imposes on the prosecution the affirmative duty to prove that the evidence it proposes to use is derived from a legitimate source wholly independent of the compelled testimony.
If I read this right, if the House were to compel her to testify, they might as well grant her immunity and be done with it.
Further on in the post, Ken points out an issue that I have been wondering about myself -- Those who want Lerner to testify are concerned with government arbitrary abuse of power for political purposes. Given that, how can these same folks have any doubt as to why Lerner might plead the Fifth in front of a hostile and partisan House committee
I've been seeing a lot of comments to the effect of "why should Lois Lerner take the Fifth if she has nothing to hide?" Ironically these comments often come from people who profess to oppose expansive government power, and from people who accept the proposition that Lerner was part of wrongdoing in the first place — in other words, that there was a government conspiracy to target people with the machinery of the IRS for holding unpopular political views. Such people do not seem to grasp how their predicate assumptions answer their own question.
You take the Fifth because the government can't be trusted. You take the Fifth because what the truth is, and what the government thinks the truth is, are two very different things. You take the Fifth because even if you didn't do anything wrong your statements can be used as building blocks indishonest, or malicious, or politically motivated prosecutions against you. You take the Fifth because if you answer questions truthfully the government may still decide you are lying and prosecute you for lying.
Pardon me: if you accept the proposition that the government targets organizations for IRS scrutiny because of their political views, and you still say things like "why take the Fifth if you have nothing to hide", then you're either an idiot or a dishonest partisan hack.
If you want to get bent out of shape about something, you are welcome to wonder why Lerner is being investigated, apparently, by the hyper-partisan civil rights division of Justice rather than the public integrity section. That, combined with President Obama's pre-judging of the DOJ's conclusions, is more of a red flag than Lerner's taking the Fifth.
Remember, Martha Stewart did not go to jail for securities fraud of any sort. She went to jail for statements she made during the government investigation.
Apparently, hundreds of US prosecutors have written Eric Holder opposing his support for reduced mandatory minimum sentences. Their letter to Holder illustrates exactly why these mandatory minimums need to be reduced:
As you know, mandatory minimum sentences are a critical tool in persuading defendants to cooperate, thereby enabling law enforcement to dismantle large drug organizations and violent gangs. Present law provides numerous opportunities for deserving defendants to avoid mandatory sentences through: cooperation in providing information about other criminals and criminal enterprises; plea bargaining, which resolves the vast majority of federal cases; the “Safety Valve,” which has allowed tens of thousands of defendants to receive lower sentences; and executive clemency, which President Obama recently employed.
The last of these is of course a joke, since Obama plays more rounds of golf in two weeks than he has commuted sentences. But this does illustrate exactly why prosecutors all love mandatory minimums and why we should hate them. Read what they are saying in this paragraph. Basically it says that mandatory minimums take sentencing out of the hands of judges and juries and puts it in the hands of ... federal prosecutors.
The problem is that very high mandatory minimums raise the stakes so high that even the innocent are often forced to cut a deal. People sometimes wonder how the innocent could ever plead guilty to something. Well, think of it this way. Can you stand on one foot for 10 seconds without losing your balance? Are you sure? Would you bet $100 on it? You would? OK, would you bet 20 years of your life on it?
How sure of something would you have to be to bet your life on it? And no matter how innocent you are, can you ever be that sure that a jury will see it your way when the federal government is sending everything it has at you?
Mandatory minimum sentences raise the stakes of trusting the judicial process so high that few people can tolerate that much risk. They cannot afford to risk going to a jury. So with this threat in hand, prosecutors gain 1) a slave that will basically do or say whatever they demand and 2) total control of the outcome of cases that should be going to trial.
I was not aware Eric Holder had supported this change but despite having my issues in the past with Holder I have to give him Kudos.
Update: Ken White at Popehat (writing about a different story) says, "As I often say here, the criminal justice system is full of people who believe that its purpose is to deliver convictions and any other result shows a malfunction." By the way, read the Popehat article at the link, it will horrify you.
After the Rodney King verdict, the general conclusion was that a jury would not convict police for crimes against minorities. Now we know better. Apparently, juries will not convict police of any crimes whatsoever. Add to this the fact that police departments themselves are so successful covering-up crimes and prevent most from coming to trial, and I wonder if police are beyond accountability.
I know there are a lot of folks who fetishize the police, but in my mind if we give police special powers, then they should have more accountability, not less. I think police should be on camera, for example, every minute of their work day.
In New Mexico, Forced Government Anal Probes are Way Better than Having Even One Person Smoke A Joint
Or so I am led to believe by the fine folks in Deming, New Mexico, who forced a man to undergo two forced X-rays, two anal probes, three enemas, and a colonoscopy under anesthesia because they worried that he might be hiding a smidge of illegal narcotics in his nether regions. Oh, and they made him pay the hospital bills for these procedures as well, sort of like billing someone's estate for the electricity used to execute them in the electric chair.
Update: Orin Kerr has a legal anal-ysis of the case (sorry, couldn't resist). His conclusion seems to be that the victim may be sh*t out of luck (sorry again) in seeking compensation. From reading it, he may even be stuck with the medical bills. I have come to expect cops to display this kind of excessive behavior. What is particularly disappointing is to see a doctor so eagerly cooperate and even, apparently, take the lead in escalating the intrusiveness of the search. It is depressing that Kerr believes the doctor may well enjoy qualified immunity for his actions. Thousands of doctors every day are successfully sued for malpractice over honest mistakes and differences in judgement, but this guy is going to walk?
I was in Houston the other day and they were talking about "no-refusal" weekends on the radio. I had no idea what this was so I had to look it up. Apparently, the police are setting up the usual extra-Constitutional DWI checkpoints. If at these checkpoints you refuse the breathalyzer tests, they now are set up on site with a nurse, a notary, and a fax to a judge's office to obtain a warrant right in the field to take your blood.
I found this astounding but the local media seems to treat it as unexceptional, and it was almost impossible to find any real news stories about it that were not just rah rah support your local police. The best resource seems to be attorney web sites.
NYPD Officer Craig Matthews complained about an illegal quota system for stops and arrests. As anyone familiar with NYPD culture could predict, he experienced retaliation from his superiors for doing so. When he sued, the NYPD hit him with an argument that's outrageous but very likely legally correct: it's your job to report misconduct, so the First Amendment doesn't prohibit us from retaliating against you for doing so.
The Association of Lawless Broomstick-Fetishist Brown-Person-Groping Can't-Shoot-Straight Thugs has a point. Because their employer is the government, public employees have limited First Amendment rights to be free of employer retaliation for their speech. But in in Garcetti v. Ceballos the Supreme Court said that right protects speech on matters of public concern unless the speech is part of a job duty:
We hold that when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline.
Thus in Garcetti the Court said a Deputy DA had no right to be free of retaliation for pointing out perjury in an arrest warrant application because doing so was his job. I explained how this doctrine works — and how courts have made an exception for professors at public colleges — in this post.
The result is that an entity like the NYPD can argue that its officers are required by their job to report unlawful activity by their superiors and fellow officers, and that therefore their act of reporting such misconduct enjoys no First Amendment protection.
Martha Coakley, former Massachusetts Attorney General, is apparently running for Governor of that state after her failed bid to be Senator.
Walter Olson has a round-up of Coakley's various abuses of power, which start with her shameful hounding of the Amirault family against all reason and facts, apparently for the sole purpose of self-aggrandizement. Unfortunately, all too frequently AG's are rewarded for prosecutorial abuse in the form of media attention and often election to higher offices (Janet Reno rode witch hunts of day care operators very similar to Coakley's into the White House).
The day care worker witch hunt was one of the more bizarre events to occur in my lifetime. I even sat on a jury of such a case, the only jury I have ever been on. You have heard of copycat murders? This turned out to be a copycat false accusation. It eventually became clear that the teenage babysitter who made the main accusations really wanted to be on the Oprah show, and saw how other day care and child abuse whistle blowers had been interviewed by Oprah. I kid you not. By the time of this case, defense lawyers had become wise to the prosecutors' game of using brainwashing techniques to try to get small children to make bizarre sexual allegations against adults in the case. So the defense was able to highlight the extremes that a couple of state psychologists had gone through to effectively break one poor 6 year old girl. It was sickening, and it took us about 15 minutes to acquit. But this is the type of behavior Ms. Coakley and her staff were engaging in.
Seriously, I am not joking. The Arkansas State Police apparently reserve the right not to consider any complaints of police brutality or mis-use of force if they are not filed within a half hour of the incident:
The killing led to a town hall meeting Monday, and the city prosecutor, Kyle Hunter, was assigned to investigate, saying his job was to determine whether the actions were justified. Hunter requested an investigation by the state police, who were not called in following the killing of the 107-year-old Isadore, but, theArkansas Times reports, state police declined Hunter’s request:
With the lapse in time, [Arkansas State Police’s Bill] Sadler said, the crime scene has been compromised, the local law enforcement agency (the Pine Bluff PD) has already processed the evidence, and the witnesses were (long since) no longer sequestered. "It's a credibility issue and a forensic issue," he said.
"APB routinely responds to those requests when they come in in a timely matter," he said. He said that requests typically come within 30 to 40 minutes after deadly force was used. Sadler said that there was no law or protocol requiring local authorities to call in the state police in a situation in which an officer uses deadly force. "That is the choice of the local jurisdiction," he said. If called, they could have arrived within half an hour, he said. "We would have immediately responded."
This weekend the Feds raided the Phoenix-area's largest car wash chain "Danny's" for a variety of unspecified immigration issues, and carried a number of folks off to jail or away for deportation. This is a very high profile and upscale business (I am looking at one outside my office window). These are not your father's car washes -- they are large and well-appointed and tailored to an upscale crowd.
Given that this is easily the highest profile car wash chain in town and each location is staffed with scores of folks of Hispanic origin**, my first thought on reading this story was to wonder why Sheriff Joe Arpaio had not conducted the raid. After all, he has practically made a career of immigration raids on car washes (here is just one raid, note by the way the horrific comments saying things like "God bless Arpaio" just under a video of normal, regular human beings being hauled off in handcuffs for ... working.)
Well, other folks in the Phoenix area wondered the same thing, and have observed that by some odd coincidence, the most obvious immigration target not raided by Sheriff Arpaio is also the largest donor to Arpaio's Sheriff's charities, and its founder can often be seen palling around with Arpaio at public events. Note Danny's prominently displayed on Arpaio's web site.
From our local sheriff all the way up to the President, we are increasingly a country of arbitrary laws and special crony exemptions. If you are not friends with Wesley Mouch, good luck to you.
** Not trying to profile here, just trying to think like the Sheriff
This is, or was, Giggles. She was turned in to an animal shelter in Wisconsin. The shelter arranged to send her to a wildlife preserve in Illinois that helps reintroduce such deer to the wild. The day before she was to be moved, state officials with military-style weaponry descended on the shelter and eventually took Giggles out in a body bag, having killed her as a matter of state policy. When asked why they did not just call and discuss the matter with the shelter, which would have duly informed them Giggles was bound for a wildlife preserve, the head agent said:
"If a sheriff's department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don't call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up,"
That is how the government sees all of us, as criminals and not as citizens. Fortunately, the state has some restraint
The DNR told WISN 12 News despite the allegations outlined in its search warrant, it will file no charges against the shelter.
Gee, thank you master. Apparently, the shelter did not have the proper permit. Gasp.
PS- Left unsaid, of course, is why the DNR needs a paramilitary group and weaponry. I sense a Radley Balko post coming.
Mayor Bloomberg in New York seems to think he has his own personal army he can order to do whatever he wishes, irregardless of Constitutional protections. Case in point is the egregiously unconstitutional stop and frisk program. The only way this program survives is that it is generally applied only to the powerless. I would love to see the policy applied randomly, rather than just to poor blacks, with officers tomorrow performing random stop and frisk at, say, the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Fiftieth Street. The outcry from the not-so-powerless would be so incredible that the program likely would not survive another 24 hours.
I have been on the road with business, and working on a fairly big announcement for next week, so I have been slow in keeping up with the emerging NSA scandal. I want to give a few brief thoughts on Obama's defense of extensive NSA data gathering. Obama said:
That’s not to suggest that, you know, you just say, trust me, we’re doing the right thing, we know who the bad guys are. And the reason that’s not how it works is because we’ve got congressional oversight and judicial oversight. And if people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress and don’t trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.
- I don't trust any of the three branches of government. You know what, neither did many of the folks who wrote the Constitution
- The involvement of the three branches of government in this issue boil down to less than two dozen people: the President, a subset of the 15 members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a subset of the 11 judges (3?) on the FISA court, which has demonstrated pretty conclusively that they will approve any warrant no matter how absurdly broad
- Non-specific warrants that basically cover open-ended data gathering on every single person in the country, with no particular suspect or target named, are clearly un-Constitutional. "and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." I would love to know what probable cause the NSA cited to seized Warren Meyer's Verizon call records. 20 Washington insiders cannot change the Constitution -- that requires a vote of 3/4 of the states.
- Obama has stopped even pretending to care about the Constitution, an amazing fact given that he is nominally a Constitutional professor
- Partisan hypocrisy has never been clearer, as traditional defenders of civil liberties and opponents of the Patriot Act like Al Franken rush to defend the NSA spying (thank God for Linsey Graham, who can be counted on to be a consistent authoritarian). Democrats and Republicans have basically switched sides on the issue.
When assessing any new government power, imagine your worst political enemy wielding the power and make your judgement of the powers' appropriateness based on that worst-case scenario. Clearly, though, no one can see past the occupant of the White House. with Coke party members backing powers for Coke Presidents but opposing them for Pepsi Presidents and vice-versa.